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Performing patriotic citizenship: Zimbabwean diaspora and their online newspaper reading practices

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Zimbabweans in the diaspora engage in various forms of material and psycho-social remitting in order to maintain links with the homeland. Although geographically disconnected from their motherland, collective and idealized memories of the homeland linger long after leaving the country. This article focuses on the psycho-social dimension of the diaspora through an examination of the online news consumption practices of the Zimbabwean diaspora. The objective is to contribute on theoretical debates about the way in which the diaspora imagine their citizenship in the digital age. Data were elicited through an open-ended questionnaire e-mailed to Zimbabweans in the diaspora selected using the snowball sampling method. In addition, in-depth interviews with five of the respondents based in South Africa were also held to complement the survey data. The article argues that Zimbabwean diaspora use online newspapers to assert their membership to the Zimbabwean political community. This active information-seeking disposition of the diaspora is an affirmation of their loyalty to the homeland regardless of the social, economic and political reality in the homeland. The symbolic assertion of transnational loyalty by the Zimbabwean diaspora to the homeland could be viewed as a performance of patriotic citizenship through seeking of collective identification around the nation state.
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Keywords: Zimbabwe; consumption practices; diaspora; homeland; imagined communities; online newspaper; patriotic citizenship; snowball sampling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Venda

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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