Belonging and Difference in Imagined Communities Essay

Belonging and Difference in Imagined Communities Essay

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Belonging and Difference in Imagined Communities


Much recent theory has been concerned with defining and examining 'new media': the forms of communication and mediation that have arisen through advances in electronics and digital technologies. These new media forms and the speed of their dissemination are paralleled by faster transportation and the movement and subsequent settlement of peoples across the globe in what has come to be called 'diaspora'. The situation is such that many of the old boundaries and barriers by which nations defined themselves have become less certain, challenged by the increasing power of people to move across them whether literally or figuratively. Diaspora has become a term in academic parlance that is associated with the experience of travel or the introduction of ambiguity into discourses of home and belonging. It is in some ways a reaction to liberal ideas of multiculturalism. Diasporic subjects often seem to be under the 'law of the hyphen' (Mishra, 421-237), they defy 'classical epistemologies' and 'jostle to find room in a space that has yet to be semanticized, the dash between two surrounding words'. Today, there are many more people whose bodies do not 'signify an unproblematic identity of selves with nations' (Mishra, 431).

According to Vijay Mishra, this gives rise to the creation in plural/multicultural societies of an 'impure genre of the hyphenated subject' (Mishra, 433). This subject is in search of an ultimate national identity, with the meaning of such unwieldy nomenclatures as African-American, Asian-Australian and the like not coming to rest on either constitutive term, but being 'lost' somewhere in the hyphen. New media both exacerbate and alleviate this exilic consciousness...


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.... New York, Hampton Press, 1996, p 132.

Mishra, Vijay. “The Diasporic Imaginary: Theorizing the Indian Diaspora.” Textual Practice 10:3: (1996): 421-237.

Papastergiadis, Nikos. “Introduction: In Home in Modernity.” In Dialogues in the Diasporas, New York University Press, 1998.

Shohat, Ella. “By the Bitstream of Babylon: Cyberfrontiers and Diasporic vistas.” Home, Exile, Homestead: Film, Media and the Politics of Place, ed Hamid Naficy, NY, Routledge, 1998, p 219.

Sinfield, Alan. “Diaspora and Hybridity: Queer Identities and the Ethnicity Model.” Textual Practice 10:2, 1996, p 271-293.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Diasporas old and new: women in the transnational world.” Textual Practice 10:2, 1996, p 245-269.

Tepper, Michele. "Usenet Communities and the Cultural Politics of Information" in Internet Culture, ed. Porter, D. Routledge, London, 1997.

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