Han CHONG (University of Western Sydney), Understanding language and (dis)belongingness in present-day Sydney and Los Angeles using Weibo – a preliminary proposal, English/11 pages, June 2014.

Abstract

This project aims to examine the identity construction of Chinese immigrants in Sydney and Los Angeles using social media. It begins with an investigation of how Chinese immigrants in these two cities express and negotiate their sense of (dis)belonging on the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo. The target group of the study is the relatively new arrivals in these two cities: students and young professionals coming to Sydney and Los Angeles after 2000. My pilot study on the Weibo discussion about the safety issues in Sydney (Han 2013) suggests that a “nomadic” (Braidotti 2011) rather than a static Chinese identity would emerge in the Chinese immigrants’ Weibo communication about their diasporic experience. By conducting a transnational comparative linguistic study of Chinese immigrants’ Weibo writing in Sydney and Los Angeles, I hope to test the hypothesis that Chinese immigrants construct themselves as ‘nomads’ who constantly struggle and roam between two mindsets and value systems rooting in two different socio-cultural, intellectual and ideological contexts in order to empower themselves and justify their actions in the process of adaptation and resistance. The findings will shed light on the following two broader questions: 1) what does it mean to be Chinese in present-day Australia and USA, and 2) How do Chinese immigrants understand and interpret Australian and American national identity in the 21st century.