Friday, August 24, 2007

Subnational Diasporas

In my last post, I was a bit sloppy with my use of terminology. An urban diaspora could describe a city's surrounding suburbs and exurbs, which is what regionalism advocates are mapping. When I reference the "Burgh Diaspora" or even the "Erie Diaspora", I invoke all the regionally displaced who identify with some hub city as their hometown.

For example, someone born and raised in Butler but now living in the Bay Area might answer "Pittsburgh" when asked about where they grew up. When two people "from Pittsburgh" get together the geography is more precise, perhaps at the scale of school district or neighborhood.

One of the challenges of regional politics is figuring out where to draw the border. Where does one region end and another begin? There are scientific approaches to answering this question and I think a diaspora population would be a useful group to survey on that count. The core region is the homeland that identifies with Pittsburgh when speaking with non-natives. Those who might say, “I’m from Morgantown, near Pittsburgh”, define the periphery.

What might Youngstown expatriates say? Would they reference Cleveland or Pittsburgh when trying to help non-natives understand the location of their hometown? I suspect that they would use both cities.

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