Pacific identity discourses on Twitter: constructing cyberspaces of belonging

Type of content
Journal Article
Thesis discipline
Degree name
Informa UK Limited
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Ross, Tara

This article investigates the performance of Pacific identities on Twitter during a high-profile cultural and sporting event, Tonga and Australia’s first-ever rugby league test match in late 2018. More than 9000 tweets were analysed using quantititative and qualitative methods to map different publics orienting to the event on Twitter, including a Pacific diasporic public that emerged through locative practices of identity and cultural performance. This study finds that Pacific users’ tweets were differentiated by textual and visual cues, including the use of emojis as a paralanguage of Pacificness and a racialized visual discourse of ‘Brownness’, in ways that suggest an emerging Pacific counter-public. The findings discussed here further demonstrate the ways in which social media affordances enable the construction of race and ethnicity online, and the ways in which marginalised groups are using social media to create alternative public spheres. This study also demonstrates the importance of looking more closely at the different discursive practices within Twitter publics to both foreground marginalised groups’ practice and de-Westernise social media studies.

Ross T Pacific identity discourses on Twitter: constructing cyberspaces of belonging. Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online. 1-19.
Pacific, identity, race, social media, Twitter
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
Fields of Research::45 - Indigenous studies::4518 - Pacific Peoples society and community
Fields of Research::45 - Indigenous studies::4513 - Pacific Peoples culture, language and history
Fields of Research::47 - Language, communication and culture::4702 - Cultural studies::470208 - Culture, representation and identity
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