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Rwandan diaspora online: Social connections and identity narratives

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This article explores how Rwandan diaspora living in North America and Europe use social media platforms to establish networked connections and express a range of identity narratives related to their forced displacement and resettlement experiences. Facebook posts (and cross-posted tweets), including status updates and linked artefacts, posted by members of the Rwandan diaspora were analysed using thematic analysis, borrowing concepts from virtual ethnography. Results reveal that Rwandan diaspora active on social media used Facebook and Twitter extensively to connect with homeland compatriots and to express a range of identity narratives with strong historic and cultural connections. Trauma related to their displacement and resettlement experiences was prevalent throughout the data and was strongly integrated into diaspora members’ collective identity. Contributions to migration policy and service providers working with trauma-exposed migrants are explored.
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Keywords: Rwanda; diaspora; forced migration; identity; social media; trauma; virtual communities

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000122928158California State University

Publication date: October 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • The course of cultures at both local and global levels is crucially affected by migratory movements. In turn, culture itself is turned migrant. This journal will advance the study of the plethora of cultural texts on migration produced by an increasing number of cultural practitioners across the globe who tackle questions of culture in the context of migration. They do this in a variety of ways and through a variety of media. To name but a few relevant aspects of this juncture of migration and culture, questions of dislocation, travel, borders, diasporic identities, transnational contacts and cultures, cultural memory, the transmission of identity across generations, questions of hybridity and cultural difference, the material and oral histories of migration and the role of new technologies in bridging cultures and fostering cultural cross-pollination will all be relevant. Methodologies of research will include both the study of 'texts' and fieldwork.
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