2022. Mette Louise Berg, ‘Anthropological Perspectives on Superdiversity: Complexity, Difference, Sameness, and Mixing’, in Fran Meissner, Nando Sigona, and Steve Vertovec (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Superdiversity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This chapter discusses anthropological perspectives on superdiversity and includes reflections on why anthropology as a discipline has been reluctant to engage with the term. Superdiversity and its reception within the discipline is then compared with how semantically proximate concepts—namely migration, transnationalism, and multiculture—were received and developed. The long shadow of functionalism and its interest in stasis and bounded culture is discussed, and alternative or subliminal genealogies for superdiversity are presented, including, especially, the anthropology of the Caribbean. The discipline’s reluctance to engage with race and working-class culture is contextualized, and it is shown how this led to scholarship on multiculture developing separately from that of migration. The emergence of transnationalism in the 1990s made it possible for anthropology to reconceptualize long-held ideas around mixing, cultural fluidity, and relationships between culture and territoriality, but transnationalism was relatively weak on the understanding of interethnic relations in areas of migrant settlement. It is noted that transnationalism poses fundamental challenges to ethnographic fieldwork conventionally conceived, and that this is also the case for superdiversity. To overcome these challenges, it is proposed that collaborative, participatory, and team-based ethnographies that also seek to decolonize ethnography, offer a promising way forward. In the conclusion, proposals are made that seek to bring anthropological engagements with superdiversity into constructive dialogue with work on racism, multiculture, deportation, and intersecting inequalities.