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Is nostalgia becoming digital? Ecuadorian diaspora in the age of global capitalism

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Focusing on the recent phenomenon of massive Ecuadorian migration to the United States and Europe, this essay explores how digital technologies are changing the experience of displacement, and how nostalgia - the longing for a home and a time left behind - may feel different in this era of global capitalism when, as advertisements posted on immigrant-oriented web sites claim, home is 'just a click away'. Due to the encounter with new technologies intent upon shrinking space and time, nostalgia might be becoming digital - a quest for continuity of space and time through the simultaneity offered by digital technologies. This essay, then, proposes the category of digital nostalgia as a critical tool for analysing the experience of displacement within the contradictory discourses of globalization, which relentlessly sell the erasure of space, distance and borders, while encouraging legal and territorial barriers that prevent the free circulation of people. For Ecuadorian migrant workers, digital technologies have become the terrain of a daily negotiation between the challenges presented by the reality they physically inhabit and those other commitments based in Ecuador. From this perspective, digital nostalgia is about the annihilation of longing through constant and real-time exposure to a home and a time that are never fully left behind. However, digital nostalgia is also about the conscious use of the simultaneity offered by digital technologies to construct an 'effect' of continuity, secure a sense of belonging, and reverse the processes of fragmentation and uprooting encouraged by global capitalism.
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Keywords: Ecuadorian migration; digital nostalgia; digital technologies; displacement; longing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Foreign Languages Department and American Studies Program, The College of Saint Rose, Albany, NY

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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