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Building Diaspora

Building Diaspora: Filipino Cultural Community Formation on the Internet

Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Building Diaspora
    Book Description:

    The dramatic growth of the Internet in recent years has provided opportunities for a host of relationships and communities-forged across great distances and even time-that would have seemed unimaginable only a short while ago.

    InBuilding Diaspora, Emily Noelle Ignacio explores how Filipinos have used these subtle, cyber, but very real social connections to construct and reinforce a sense of national, ethnic, and racial identity with distant others. Through an extensive analysis of newsgroup debates, listserves, and website postings, she illustrates the significant ways that computer-mediated communication has contributed to solidifying what can credibly be called a Filipino diaspora. Lively cyber-discussions on topics including Eurocentrism, Orientalism, patriarchy, gender issues, language, and "mail-order-brides" have helped Filipinos better understand and articulate their postcolonial situation as well as their relationship with other national and ethnic communities around the world. Significant attention is given to the complicated history of Philippine-American relations, including the ways Filipinos are racialized as a result of their political and economic subjugation to U.S. interests.

    As Filipinos and many other ethnic groups continue to migrate globally,Building Diasporamakes an important contribution to our changing understanding of "homeland." The author makes the powerful argument that while home is being further removed from geographic place, it is being increasingly territorialized in space.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-3744-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Preface: Why Filipinos?
    (pp. xvii-xxvi)
  5. 1 Introduction: Filipino Community Formation on the Internet
    (pp. 1-27)

    The discourse surrounding “America’s New War” on terrorism has been confusing for some commentators, scholars, and the U.S. public because it illuminates the difficulties of and problems with the easy dichotomizations of the past. The events surrounding September 11, 2001, have shaken many people’s sense of security and stability, but have also forced some people to question the stability of seemingly naturalized categories of nation, race, and culture, and openly scrutinize the use of religion for political gains. The above quote by Williams reminds (or informs) its readers that nations are indeed imagined and were often created to serve other...

  6. 2 Problematizing Diaspora: If Nation, Culture, and Homeland Are Constructed, Why Bother with Diasporic Identity?
    (pp. 28-52)

    The fuzzy blue “Welcome home” mat in front of my mom and dad’s house signals to me warmth, safety, and a place to escape. (I can practically hear that “Welcome home, to Maxwell House” jingle as I pull into the driveway.) To relatives from the Philippines and various acquaintances, however, this image is a bit disconcerting. The mat and the outside of my childhood home don’t “fit” with what’s inside. For some visitors, it signals the death of a culture and absorption into mainstream white American life. For others, the outside of the home masks the exotic foreignness of immigrant...

  7. 3 Selling Out One’s Culture: The Imagined Homeland and Authenticity
    (pp. 53-77)

    Hughes ([1948] 1971) argued that knowing and/or living by one’s cultural values is what differentiates “authentic” members of the ethnic community from others. However, he warned that cultural artifacts don’tidentifya culture; they are used toforma culture. In this chapter, I analyze participants’ discussion and construction of Filipino cultural values and artifacts, such as language. As we will see, in these interchanges, the division between Filipino and American is highlighted through participants’ articulation of cultural values and location.

    Learning about the shared meanings of cultures includes learning about cultural values. As stated in the last chapter, liberal...

  8. 4 “Ain’t I a Filipino (Woman)?”: Filipina as Gender Marker
    (pp. 78-112)

    The development of racial and cultural differences often justifies an unequal, hierarchical power relationship (Gupta and Ferguson 1997; Michaels 1995) and is, unfortunately, articulated by the very people who are most hurt by these characterizations. With respect to colonialism, the constructions of cultural differences to validate the reorganization and redistribution of resources are also ensconced within a complex combination of national, gendered, sexual, and racial projects. I argue that gender and sexuality are similarly and simultaneously constructed for the same reasons.

    In the two years I studied soc.culture.filipino, posts about Filipino women dominated the conversations,¹ accounting for one-third of the...

  9. 5 Laughter in the Rain: Jokes as Membership and Resistance
    (pp. 113-133)

    In this forum designed to articulate “what Filipino culture really is and what it is rumored to be,” participants of soc.culture.filipino debated hundreds of questions, including the following: Are Filipino values rooted in the Philippines or can they be taught in other parts of the world? Do we want to teach our kids Filipino values? Do we even know what they are? Can Filipinos in the diaspora, especially Filipinos naturalized in the United States, be “as Filipino” as those in the Philippines? Or, did they give up their Filipinoness when they became citizens of another country? If naturalized citizens of...

  10. 6 E Pluribus or E Pluribus Unum?: Can There Be Unity in Diversity?
    (pp. 134-148)

    The jokes that I analyzed in the previous chapter temporarily quelled the debates on soc.culture.filipino. However, because real life goes on and because new people drop into the newsgroup all the time, the debates started again only a few weeks after the last jokes were posted. This does not mean that the list of jokes did not have some impact on the participants, however. For the rest of my stay at soc.culture.filipino, whenever someone lamented that Filipinos were too divisive and could not form a unified front, participants would refer to the “You might be Filipino if” jokes.

    But questions...

  11. Appendix A: Studying the Definition of “Filipino”
    (pp. 149-149)
  12. Appendix B: You May Be Married to a Filipina If
    (pp. 150-151)
  13. Appendix C: Are You Really Filipino?
    (pp. 152-156)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 157-162)
  15. References
    (pp. 163-170)
  16. Index
    (pp. 171-176)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 177-178)