Cyberspace as a new battleground for disenchanted diasporas?In a new article in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (Vol 34, No 7, pp 1145-1161), Simon Turner explores how members of the Burundian diaspora are involved in creating or easing ethnic tensions in their home country. Apart from years of fieldwork among Burundians in Belgium, Denmark and East Africa, Turner examines the proliferation of websites concerned with Burundi and created by Burundians in exile, and how these have changed over time along with the political changes in Burundi. As Burundi has moved from ethnic conflict and political exclusion towards peace, reconciliation and democracy, the role of the diaspora has changed as well. Previously, Hutu exiles saw it as their duty to provide uncensored information on the conflict and to fight for the right to express a multitude of opinions. By exploring changes in Burundian websites, the article shows how some Burundian exiles have recently embraced a position of nation-building. Meanwhile, the democratic reforms do not eliminate the anxieties and doubts of all exiled Burundians. These anxieties find their expression on websites where Burundians from all over the world create communities where they can express the unspeakable and float opinions that would never be acceptable in the political field. The article argues that the ideology of democracy and human rights depends on an exclusion of certain opinions - and that diasporic cyberspace may function as a repository for such surplus opinion where the unspeakable may be aired.
New article explores the role of diasporas and the internet in ethnic conflict in Africa