Wednesday, October 01, 2008


My interest in diaspora networks started with the works of Salman Rushdie. Rushdie is one of the seminal writers in the postcolonial genre. Rushdie provided me with an introduction to postcolonial theory and postcolonial geography. From Rushdie's ideas spring forth Liminal Youngstown and other post-industrial landscapes where the seeds of Rust Belt revitalization are planted. What I find most compelling is the economy that exists between two places, India and everywhere else:

Arguably the rest of the world is feeling the Indian diaspora's rise more than India itself. Lakshmi Mittal bought Luxembourg steel giant Arcelor, Tata bought Jaguar, and Reliance Petroleum is building what will become the world's largest refinery. But these family-run conglomerates, like Greek shipping magnates or modern multinationals, are enriching themselves far more than their home countries. Powerful Indians connect in stateless nodes, virtually and in airport lounges, building networks of technology and finance with no need for India itself as the middleman. As the Indian diaspora globalizes itself further, seven hundred million Indians remain distantly marginalized from the globalization equation. Meanwhile, Satyam, a leading Indian outsourcing vendor, is building goodwill in America by setting up training centers and hiring tech workers in Ohio.

I imagine powerful Pittsburghers connecting in stateless nodes, the ungeography of globalizaiton. There is no need to wait for parochial Pittsburgh to untangle itself. I'm watching Liminal Pittsburgh blossom online, growth evading the usual metrics. The wayward Yinzer is finding success throughout the world. And like India, Pittsburgh is ambivalent.

Take a gander at this map of "Bollystan," the powerful Indian Diaspora. Mapping is not a knowledge-neutral exercise. It is a builder of identity and pathway for trust. It is also a powerful fiction, as Rushdie articulates in Midnight's Children. Somewhere, out there, is Yinzerstan. But you won't find it in Pittsburgh.

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