Ethnic organizations and ethnic identities: Websites as a tool to create transnational gendered identities

Date of Completion

January 2006


Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Mass Communications|Gender Studies




This research draws on the experiences of Indian-origin groups in the US and UK to examine transnational forms of ethnicity. It focuses specifically on ethnic organizations which are engaged in constructing transnational ethnic identities, using religion as a means for constructing new, virtually linked communities. Based on web-based and interview data of Hindu Student Organizations in the U.S. and U.K, this study examines the process of creating transnational ethnic identities. Hinduism is a religion with no uniform sets of practices - chosen religious texts, practices, and beliefs are culturally, regionally, and family dependent - so it provides a good basis for examining whether the identities constructed by these groups are transnational, i.e. the same elements are emphasized by groups in the two countries to construct a more homogenized ethnic identity that transcends the specificities of the national and local contexts. Relatedly, the study examines whether these identities are gendered, and in what way. The study examines to what extent the public discourse is similar between the UK and US based sites. It also examines the structure of links between websites to show whether websites which appear to be nation-specific are actually linked to each other to create a transnational network. Second, the study identifies and analyzes the gender elements in the discourse of these websites to study what elements are used to create gender distinctions in transnational forms of ethnic identity. The findings of study suggests that the study of transnationalism needs to be extend beyond the current focus on "home" and "host" countries to consider what happens in multiple "host" countries. It also suggests that "strong women" ideologies can be used to create gender hierarchies.^