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Title: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and ethnic identity formation in China : the Sibe people and the concept and practice of Minzu
Author: Hao, Lei
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 2500
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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The Sibe people in Northeast and Northwest China lived largely apart for over 250 years until information and communication technology (ICT) renewed regular contact. This thesis hypothesizes that the changes in Sibe interaction resulting from ICT use are redefining their ethnic identity – or minzu in Chinese. To investigate this hypothesis, data was gathered using a combination of interviews and ethnography of Sibe use of social media across platforms from Sina Weibo to QQ and WeChat. The findings contribute to research on both the concept and practice of minzu today and the role of ICT in the production of identity. They challenge essentialist explanations of the relation between ethnic minorities and the internet found in both cyber-utopian and cyber-realist literatures. First, they demonstrate that ethnicity – or minzu in Chinese – is a social construction and dynamic concept. Second, they show that ICT participates in identity construction in an interaction between users’ social and cultural needs and the characteristics of ICT itself. To support this understanding and show how different players shape ethnic identity in their use of ICT, the core chapters: trace the genealogy of minzu as a concept in relation to Sibe identity; analyze the representation of the Westward Migration of Sibe to Northwest China in official museums and unofficially online; and examine debates about how to transliterate Sibe language on the internet.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral