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Title: Transnationalism and the Internet : the case of London-based Chinese professionals
Author: Kang, Ting-Yu
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 8402
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the role of internet use in migrants’ participation in, and articulation of, rising Chinese modernity. It explores the ways in which transnational subjectivity is produced through this process. It investigates how migrants’ various uses of the internet construct and make sense of their connections with China. It demonstrates a new generation of subjectivity among Chinese transnationals that is tech-savvy, modern and triumphal – a subjectivity embedded in the exchange between the (macro) political economy of China’s rise and the (micro) everyday practices surrounding the internet. This is an ethnographic study focusing on an emerging population within the broader Chinese diaspora; that is, mainland Chinese professionals who migrated for higher education and professional training in recent years as a result of China’s reform and economic power. This study locates its enquiries in three offline-grounded institutions – ethnic organisations, states and families. These institutions pre-date the internet but increasingly turn to the technology for transnational and local connections. Regarding Chinese organisations, utilising the internet to build co-ethnic sociality is read as a symbolic practice that signals the users’ belonging to a technologically-advanced, mobile and wealthy sector within the broader idea of the Chinese community. On the role of the state, internet use provides new modes of migrants’ access to China’s state-led development projects, thus opening up new spaces for the state’s disciplinary power to be exercised. This digital governance is enabled by a discourse of Chinese triumphalism constructed by both the state and the migrants. Regarding families, the digitalisation of the gendered division of labour in transnational families provides evidence of the segmented nature of China’s digital modernity and disrupts the triumphal portrait of transnational modernity constructed among the elite-stratum migrants. Overall, this study develops a dialogue between two literatures. On the one hand, it adds to diasporic internet studies by introducing an offline-grounded, geographically-informed approach and by bringing transnational modernity into its research agenda. On the other hand, it draws on Nonini and Ong’s (1997) theorisation of Chinese transnationalism as alternative modernity and further adds to this theorisation with a focus on internet technology and a discussion of the impacts of China’s rise. It contributes to human geography by revisiting a key concept in this discipline – transnationalism – with a discussion of the interweaving impacts of information technology and the geopolitical shift of China’s rising modernity.
Supervisor: Rogers, Alistair ; Currah, Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ethnic minorities and ethnicity ; Internet and everyday life ; Global ; Geography ; Internet research ; Sociology ; migration ; China ; transnationalism ; Internet