by David Ramírez Plascencia
I’d like to thank Digithum’s staff for giving me the opportunity to share and discuss with you my article “Bringing Spain back”: The construction of virtual diasporic communities of Spaniards in Mexico, which was published in issue 21. And secondly, but of no lesser importance, I’d like to thank you for reading this invitation to explore not only my text but the entire issue. It contains some awesome works that will be of great interest among both the scholarly community and the general public.
First, I would like to introduce the concept of diaspora, which is central to my research. A diaspora is a group in which members have a solid feeling of belonging to an identity, and are willing to protect their culture against any external factors that could jeopardize it. In the new millennium, with the fast spread of information technologies – social media, mobile devices, video game consoles with internet access – among migrants and their daily lives, the concept of diaspora is valuable for comprehending the dynamics and difficulties that all travellers must face if they are to maintain their culture in an interconnected and constantly changing world.
In this article I worked with the concept of diaspora to explore how migrants use social media to create online communities that, over the years, could become similar to diasporic communities. I am mainly studying the case of Spaniards who have moved to Mexico to look for new opportunities. After the global economic crash of 2008, thousands of Spaniards were forced to leave their country, looking for better conditions elsewhere. Some went to European countries such as Germany or England, but others crossed the Atlantic Ocean into the New World. Some migrants, particularly younger ones, arrived in Mexico looking work and better economic conditions. In these circumstances, the use of social media platforms has gained strategic significance not only for Spaniards already living in Mexico – who want to stay in contact with their relatives, friends and culture in Spain – but also for those who are considering travelling around Mexico and need information on economic, migratory and security issues.
Lastly, what this humble contribution seeks is to contribute to the debate about how the use of technologies such as social media supports migrants’ lives. And to state that what really transforms a virtual community of migrants into a diasporic community (in the case of Spaniards in Mexico, at least) is not the quantity of users or the information shared there, not the longing to go back to Spain and be with relatives, but the determination to bring back – virtually at least, little by little through multimedia content such as videos, photographs, and commentaries – the Spain that was left behind. And it is through these actions that some isolated Spaniards, despite a lack of physical presence, have become a community. These are the actions that help migrants faced with difficulties and dangers on their journeys. This, from a certain point of view, is a form of resistance and endurance against the adverse conditions that forced them to wander far from home.
Thanks again and I hope you enjoy reading the article!
Ramírez Plascencia, D., (2018). “Bringing Spain back”: The construction of virtual diasporic communities of Spaniards in Mexico. Digithum. (21), pp.33–42. DOI: http://doi.org/10.7238/d.v0i21.3114