New Online Communities and New Identity Making: The Curious Case of the Kurdish Diaspora
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The central argument in this paper is that the intimately set of processes—diaspora, transnationalism, and communication technologies—are creating new maps of identities, which are diverging from traditional forms of identity-making within the physical and national territory. By delving into how this triangulated relationship brings out a series of new identity experiences, the aim here is to demonstrate how this can serve as a timely example in a wider context of how traditional spheres of identity (i.e. ethnicity, culture, gender, and religion), which have hitherto provided people with firm identities, are being contested in this age of digital technologies and new transnational and global collaborations. Based on an interdisciplinary and comparative research study, including multi-sited (online-offline) methodology, the empirical examples unveil how diasporic Kurds have through their online activities developed transnational and global consciousness that goes beyond the national or dual diasporic consciousness. They display a growing awareness of identity difference not only between diaspora and homeland Kurds, but also between Kurdish diasporas in various European countries. While the struggle for nation-state building and identity rights are still a central part of their agenda, the new opportunities for self-representation in the online world suggest novel articulations of identity which are challenging old notions of belonging and community. Therefore, rather than speaking of the inflationary “imagined diaspora,” this paper presents the fluidity of diasporic identities and how victim diaspora can morph into transnational and global diaspora. The acknowledgement of identity difference and the de-mythologization of the homeland complicates the concept of the imagined community which until now has not been sufficiently recognized in academic writing.
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