Smart phone-Based Social Media and Transnational Imagination: a Study of Chinese Migrants in Prato, Italy.
- In the past three decades, Chinese migrants have transformed their role in Prato, Italy’s textile industry from laborers to collaborators, turning this previous capital of Italian textile into the basecamp of a transnational pronto moda (fast fashion) network across Europe and China. Social Media has developed from computer-based chatting room to smart phone-based “WeChat” in parallel to the migra... read moretory experience By looking at how Chinese migrants use “WeChat” and the public interactions among them in Prato, this research aims to understand the transnational identity that Prato’s Chinese migrants have been imagining, practicing, and re-imagining in order to sustain the existing transnational circulation and accumulation of capital in the globalized economy. By looking at the potential difference in “WeChat” usage between first generation and the emerging second generation Chinese migrants, this research also seeks to discuss a possible destination of transnational practices: the maintenance of transnationality across fixed regulatory nation-state boundaries. This research adopts ethnography as its essential research method, and models on a few ethnographic works on media and migration. During the ten weeks’ fieldwork, participant-observation in Prato’s public spaces (e.g., restaurants and squares on “China Street”) and the virtual space of “WeChat,”as well as interviews with Prato’s Chinese migrants are conducted in order to collect data for future analysis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the grant requirement of the Tufts Summer Scholars Program.read less