In this study, I examine narratives of belonging through a corpus of digital diasporic discourse. The corpus is based on a Nigerian online discussion forum; its users primarily consist of both local Nigerians and members of the globally dispersed Nigerian diaspora. The study sets out by providing a working definition of narratives of belonging couched in the sociolinguistic tradition of approaching narrative structures. This includes aspects of personal narration, structural features, and reference to concepts that are salient in the construction of belonging. From this preliminary definition, retrieval strategies are developed to identify narratives of belonging in a large-scale dataset through a combination of manual and automated searches. The dataset of narratives is then analyzed, both in terms of structural features such as length and variation in narrative complexity, as well as linguistic properties, such as code-switching and the use of toponyms. Finally, these analyses are used to identify emerging topic strands and recurring themes in these narratives of belonging. It can be argued that such codifications of the diasporic experience are created and reinforced through individuated stories. Narratives of belonging, in other words, systematically contribute to the identity work performed in and by a digital diasporic community.
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© 2016 Theresa Heyd
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