Uyghur digital diaspora in Kyrgyzstan

Marat, A. (2016). Uyghur digital diaspora in Kyrgyzstan. Diaspora Studies9(1), 53-63. Link

Abstract

‘The Uyghur problem’ occurred as a result of the combination of various degrees of complexities throughout history of the Uyghur people. Historical events and dispersion became a turning point in the formation of the Uyghur diaspora. However, not all Uyghur communities could express their diasporic identity publicly in daily discourse. The solution they found to express their diasporic identity became cyber space, communities on the Internet that were specifically opened for ethnic reinforcement, cultural expression, political activism and communication with other Uyghurs. This is what was lacking in their real lives particularly for Uyghurs in Kyrgyzstan. This paper suggests that digital diaspora is a result of unavailability of offline resources and spaces for communication of their cultural and political identities. This paper presents a digital ethnographic research on the use of a Russian social network ‘Odnoklassniki.ru’ (www.odnoklassniki.ru) to communicate their cultural, political and religious identities, and how these practices contribute to the imaginative development, cohesion and enforcement of diasporic identity.

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