Digital Technology, Physical Space, and the Notion of Belonging among Chinese Migrants in Japan

Abstract

This paper illustrates how, among Chinese migrants in Japan, the notion of belonging is constructed and modified by their use of digital technology, by presenting digital technologies as a continuum of physical and digitized life experiences.

Drawing on interviews with 55 Chinese migrants in Japan, this paper argues that Chinese migrants are increasingly engaged in digital spaces that combine the online and offline and permit their presence at a transnational scale, through a collectively imagined ‘Chinese’ identity. However, because of the influence of physical spaces on Chinese migrants’ transnational, diasporic experiences, this transnational engagement does not lead to the construction of a transnational or a relatively static nation-state sense of belonging. Instead, for Chinese migrants in Japan, the notion of belonging can be based on the situation and context, and it can switch between the home and host countries.

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