April 17, 2008
Written by C.N.
I won’t be blogging for the next few days because I will be in Chicago attending the annual conference of the Association for Asian American Studies. I’ll be there to attend sessions to hear about new research in the field, see old friends and colleagues and hopefully meet new ones, and to give a presentation entitled “Virtually Asian: The Social Construction of Identity Through Internet Media.”
Rather than describing specific examples of how Asian Americans use the various Internet sites to help them form their ethnic identity and to develop group solidarity, this presentation takes a broader, more sociological view of this phenomenon and places it in a larger institutional and globalized context.
Basically, I briefly summarize a few examples of how the Internet shapes individual and group identity by first facilitating mass communication, and secondly by actively amplifying and promoting various imagined ideals and visions of an Asian American identity.
Then I discuss how Asian Americans are both overrepresented as users of the Internet and as Internet entrepreneurs, both of which share the common trait of collaboration, in which Asian Americans leverage personal and community networks and social ties to achieve their goals as both users and entrepreneurs, and in the process, facilitating a stronger ethnic bond.
Further, in talking about sociological theories of how ethnic identity is formed, I discuss the likelihood that as Asian Americans continue to use the Internet to develop their personal identity and group solidarity, these bonds are likely to become more “diasporic” or international in nature as they increasingly connect with other Asians and co-ethnics overseas.
Finally, I speculate on how this emerging diasporic or international nature of ethnic and group identity formation fits within the larger context of increased diversity, globalization, and transnationalism both in the U.S. and around the world, and how these trends may provide an opportunity for Asian Americans to assert a new form of “American” identity that better reflects these larger demographic and institutional trends.
Hopefully that makes some sense and I’ll look forward to hearing people’s comments and reporting to you how my presentation went after I return.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Going to Asian American Studies Conference" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2008/04/going-to-asian-american-studies-conference/> ().
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