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The virtual meets reality: Policy implications of e-diasporas

By Deirdre McKay

Diasporas are global social formations of people who have been scattered from their country of origin. They carry with them a collective representation, myth or imagined sense of their homeland. The connection between the diaspora and its members’ original ‘home’ was, until the rise of social media, sustained by letters, tapes and print media.

E-diasporas originally emerged as online manifestations of diaspora communities. Although social media are just some of many technologies used by people to communicate, their rise has intensified the articulation and elaboration of diasporic identities several-fold.

With social media, e-diasporas recreate and expand a diaspora’s sense of shared identity and community by providing a virtual venue for affirmation and recognition.

Today, e-diasporas are combinations of self-interest and identity groups that share experiences through online media. The members share their country of origin and, at times—depending on the size of the community—their host country.