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Building Diaspora

Filipino Cultural Community Formation on the Internet

Emily N. Ignacio

Publication Year: 2004

Building Diaspora heralds an important development in cultural studies, ethnic studies, the sociology of media, and globalization. Emily Ignacio brings an extended, incisive empirical investigation that is still quite rare in the theory-heavy yet data-light field of cyberspace cultural studies. She carefully crafts a framework in which to showcase the itinerant ideas and desires of Filipinos talking to each other from various geographical locations."—Martin Manalansan IV, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-8

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pp. ix-xvi

When I was in graduate school, crippled with writer’s block, guiltridden (as any good Filipino Catholic girl would be for writing about her elders and her community in such a manner), and frozen with fear because I felt I did not have the right to write about the Filipino community...

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Preface: Why Filipinos?

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pp. xvii-xxiii

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...

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1. Introduction. Filipino Community Formation on the Internet

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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...

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2. Problematizing Diaspora: If Nation, Culture, and Homeland Are Constructed, Why Bother with Diasporic Identity?

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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...

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3. Selling Out One’s Culture: The Imagined Homeland and Authenticity

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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’t identify a culture; they are used to form a culture. In this chapter, I analyze participants...

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4. “Ain’t I a Filipino (Woman)?” Filipina as Gender Marker

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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...

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5. Laughter in the Rain: Jokes as Membership and Resistance

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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...

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6. E Pluribus or E Pluribus Unum? Can There Be Unity in Diversity?

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pp. 134-147

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...

Appendix A: Studying the Definition of “Filipino”

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pp. 149-175

Appendix B: You May Be Married to a Filipina If

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pp. 150-151

Appendix C: Are You Really Filipino?

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pp. 152-156


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pp. 157-161


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pp. 163-170


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pp. 171-176

About the Author

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pp. 177-204

E-ISBN-13: 9780813537443
E-ISBN-10: 0813537444
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813535135

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2004