Building Diaspora: Filipino Community Formation on the Internet

Building Diaspora: Filipino Community Formation on the Internet

Building Diaspora: Filipino Community Formation on the Internet

Building Diaspora: Filipino Community Formation on the Internet


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.

In Building 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 Diaspora makes 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.


“Pilipino ka ba?” I never know what to say when I
hear these words. Am I Filipino? “Um—yes, I am,”
I answered. “Ah—Kano, ha?” he said, confirming
his suspicion that I’m an American. Okay, maybe
I’m not a Filipino…. I always feel awkward
whenever an older, first generation Filipino
American asks me about my ethnicity. I never
know what to say

—Journal entry, November 1995

“Good—your mama raised you as a Filipino. My
other niece shook my hand when she greeted me.
That’s [shaking one’s hand] very American. and to
think she was raised here in the Philippines!
Cora—you raised Emily right!”

—Journal entry, June 1991,
written during trip to the Philippines

I never understood what it meant to be Filipino. As I was growing up, I received so many conflicting definitions that by the time I reached high school I was sure that no one (not even my parents, who are firstgeneration immigrants) could sit down and tell me what it means. At first, I’d thought that, perhaps, this phenomenon was unique to my family. I’d grown up in what is often called an “extended family household”; that is, I lived in a house filled with aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, my mom and dad, and even, at one point, seven dogs and a turtle named Floppy. To many of my classmates, colleagues, and many others I have encountered throughout my life, this may seem like an extraordinary case. Yet, to many racial minority groups and immigrants of all races, especially within the United States, this is what we consider to be “family” (hooks 1994; Stacks 1996). At any rate, I

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