UBC Undergraduate Research

Digital Diaspora : Investigating Identity in ‘subtle asian traits’ Wong, Ervin


The meteoric rise of subtle asian traits (SAT), a Facebook group centered around sharing memes and experiences unique to Asian individuals who balance their cultural influences with that of the Westernized society around them, has surely impacted how racial and ethnic identity is represented and engaged with. Its presence as a digital space nuances this phenomenon even further. How is a collective Asian diasporic identity understood and represented on SAT? To that end, how does this collective identity that SAT proposes inform or relate to members’ personal racial or ethnic identities? This research draws from seven semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted with individuals who are members of subtle asian traits among other offshoot groups. A range of opinions were expressed about the community that is cultivated on SAT, of which inclusive and exclusionary aspects were cited as shaping a certain group racial identity. Participants’ personal relevance to this group identity similarly covered a range of attitudes towards SAT. The digital nature of the space is also examined in its influence and facilitation of the identity work that occurs. Overall, this analysis uncovers how SAT as a space drives racial and ethnic identity to the forefront of members’ minds and compels them to assert these identities unapologetically in contemporary and digital formats.

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