All Abstracts > Building a life on the soil of the ultimate other – WeChat and belonging among Chinese migrants in Japan
Building a life on the soil of the ultimate other – WeChat and belonging among Chinese migrants in Japan
Author | Affiliation:
Xinyu Promio Wang | Ibaraki Christian University
3C | WeChat and Chinese diaspora
This paper focuses on WeChat’s two main communicative channels, namely ‘individual chat’ and ‘moments’, to illustrate their impacts on the sense of belonging among Chinese migrants in Japan. Findings reported in this paper are based on in-depth interviews and on-site digital ethnographic observations with respectively 60 and 26 Chinese migrants in Japan between May 2018 and January 2021. It argues that through these two communicative channels, WeChat plays a critical role in the ongoing negotiation of belonging and self-positioning among Chinese migrants in Japan. On the one hand, against the backdrop of contested Sino-Japanese relations and their respective officially sanctioned national identities, ‘individual chat’ helps to construct a Chinese identity outside of national discourses or Chinese state’s political traits by mediating Chinese migrants’’ emotional and cultural ties with their homeland. On the other hand, by categorizing their contact and creating diversified ‘moments’ contents, Chinese migrants actively differentiate themselves from their non-migrant counterparts based on their transnational human mobility. In this way, they construct a Chinese identity based on the recognition of differences between the homeland and the host society in terms of socio-cultural practices and ideals. This paper argues that with its assorted technological functions, WeChat allows Chinese migrants in Japan to negotiate, construct, and express a multi-layered sense of self and belonging so as to reflect their personal desires and transnational experiences.
About the author
Xinyu Promio Wang is a PhD student at the Ibaraki Christian University.