Social Media and the Renegotiation of Filipino diasporic identities

  • Author / Creator
    Aguila, Almond Pilar N.
  • Diasporic identities may involve shifting forms of socio-economic class, status, culture, ethnicity and the like depending on one’s relationship with others (Lan, 2003; Pe-Pua, 2003; Seki, 2012). Social networking sites (SNSs) may offer transnationals to do more than just keep in touch with loved ones. Unlike other technologies (landline/mobile phones, email, instant messaging, voice-over IP service, etc.), the SNS design may also reveal ambivalent facets of their identities previously segregated through one-on-one or one-to-few modes of communication. In SNS contexts, unexpected paradoxes, such as being labelled an ethnic migrant in the host country while simultaneously being stereotyped as a prosperous immigrant in the home country, may become more evident. Previous studies conclude that SNS facilitate the demonstration of diasporic identities (Bouvier, 2012; Christensen, 2012; Komito, 2011; Oiarzabal, 2012). These platforms may allow diasporics to constantly and continuously renegotiate who they are to certain people. This research investigates how Filipino diasporics may simultaneously perform their cultural identities on Facebook to loved ones in the home country, new friends in the host country and members of their diasporic community around the world. Profile photos, status updates, photo uploads and video sharing may allow them to challenge Filipino stereotypes. By combining Filipino indigenous methods and virtual ethnography, I acknowledge my unique position as a Filipino migrant. Such means occupying an in-between space—as both an insider and an outsider (saling pusa). While my research methods may seem aligned with virtual ethnography, pakikipagkapwa (development of trust through relationship-building) is my mother method. Interviews and focus group discussions are more like casual conversations than formal data gathering techniques. I treat participants as equals in our shared experience of renegotiating who we are as Filipino diasporics. This is rooted in the Filipino core value of “kapwa” which views identity as a fusion of self and others. Thus, I investigate how my participants and I renegotiate our cultural identities with Filipino and non-Filipino contacts on Facebook. Subtle renegotiations seemed to emerge through online pakikipagkapwa. These result in new forms of Filipino diasporic identities that may seem more visible on Facebook than in our material encounters. Such renegotiations may involve identity formation through deliberate association with and/or distancing from people in the way we enact kapwa as part of who we are as diasporic Filipinos through social networking.

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  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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