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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Diasporic Identity Formation and the Internet: A Case of the Armenian Diaspora
by Avedisian, Tsoline S., M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2011, 77; 10305723
Abstract (Summary)

Although members of the diaspora have used the media in the past to form their diasporic identity, the use of the internet is becoming an integral source for diasporic identity formation in everyday life. The virtual world is used as a space that is entered into on a daily basis by most diasporic communities, and yet the effects of this mediated space have not fully been explored as to how they affect diasporic identity formation and belonging. Thus, this research explores the use of the new media, the internet in particular, amongst Armenians within the diaspora as they participate in virtual communities, dating websites, and social forums in an effort to consciously or unconsciously form a diasporic identity. The evolving definition of diaspora and its relation to the term ‘home’ are looked at to further understand contemporary diasporas. As the virtual realm fits into a new notion of home, and spaces are redefined, it is important to understand how this virtual space helps to foster diasporic identity and belonging, and the complexities that arise along the way. The ideas around the need for belonging among individuals within the diaspora are presented through existing literature and diasporic experiences. Issues around this need to belong are developed as well as difficulties in attaining true belonging. The virtual world is looked into as a third space, where belonging can be attained if it is not reached in either the host-country or home-country. In order to further understand the complexities of this mediated process a case study is used to examine a group of individuals within the Armenian diaspora between the ages of 21–29. Armenian identity within this generation is looked at as responsibility and often times a full time job. Seeing as the American identity is embedded in the everyday the virtual realm becomes a place where third- and fourth-generation Armenians can enter and maintain these cultural ties that have been passed down from parents and grandparents. The virtual realm is relied on to form a strong Armenian identity but also eases the pressure in negotiating between identities and allows for a hybrid diasporic identity to be formed. An in-depth interview reports the findings of sixteen male and female participants, demonstrating the complex and even contradictory consequences of the internet as it relates to identity formation and belonging. This research contributes knowledge around the virtual world as a third space where belonging is sought after yet it is not always attained or imagined with unpredictable consequences.

Keywords: Armenian, Belonging, Diaspora, Identity, Internet

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kim, Youna
School: The American University of Paris (France)
Department: Global Communications
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Multimedia Communications, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Armenian, Belonging, Diaspora, Internet
Publication Number: 10305723
ISBN: 978-1-369-49287-3
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