This paper examines migrants' use of the Internet to re-territorialize homeland, exploring the resurgence of geographical places in making and maintaining identities in the digital age. Conducting semi-structured interviews and participant observation, this research focuses on the London-based Chinese population and demonstrates various ways in which the Internet plays a key role in reinforcing these migrants' territorial attachment. In so doing, I seek to revisit the popular theorization that the Internet has led to the detachment of cultures from geographic places. The findings suggest that migrants use a variety of Internet applications to reproduce their home territories and ethnic cultural practices in both their intimate, personal spaces and public spaces. The linguistic, cultural, and social environments in China are transmitted into migrants' living rooms, London's Chinatown, and other public urban places through P2P applications, high-speed video sharing sites, and social networking sites. This online consumption of visual and audio products is often transmitted live, through which migrants' temporal practices in London become parallel to those in China. Through these uses of the Internet, the boundary between home and abroad is challenged and the power dynamics of the majority and minority surrounding urban land use are destabilized.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: School of Geography, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Publication date: April 1, 2009