Sociotechnical Change: Tracing Flows, Languages, and Stakes Across Diverse Cases| Digital Diaspora and Nationhood: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Practices of Nationhood

Azeb Madebo


Drawing on digital ethnographic observations I carried out on Instagram between June 29, 2020, and July 2021, as well as interviews with content creators and activists, this article considers the digitally mediated identity negotiations and nationalist boundary-making practices of diaspora youth during Ethiopia’s 2020–2022 war. On top of protesting, debating, and transmitting information, young people used Instagram’s communicative affordances to formulate collective identities and competing imaginaries about Ethiopia and their respective ethnonational identities. Using visual affordances like emojis, hashtags, profile images, and bio statements, they adopted and inscribed markers with political meanings that enabled them to signal difference and belonging as well as readily identify potential wartime allies and adversaries. These sociotechnical and constitutive processes shaped the formation of diaspora youths’ national imaginaries as well as the features and uses they associated with Instagram.


digital nationalism, Instagram, Ethiopia, emoji, sociotechnical change

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