25 April 2008


Seems that our once-grounded individual identities are inflating from the local into a placeless, reterritorialized metaverse identification hovering in the cyberspatial Digital City. Here, I am conflating the physical, economic realities of globalization with the psycho-social contingencies of the Network Society.

Let me explain. In former times identities--subjectivities--were more of a given. We were who we were born as; and a significant part of our identities was informed by where we lived. Today there is increasing social pressures to ever-create new identities, which are open-ended and always incomplete, in a process of "individualization." Instead of a given identity, we now have the personal, ongoing project of re-creating identification. Like changing avatars on a social-networking site, we can change our identification in the Digital City, by modifying our bodies and by re-creating ourselves in cyberspace. We can also change partners/spouses, residences, jobs, religions, and so on.

In terms of place, or sense of place, communities are devolving--or better, "inflating"--away from a bounded, physical place and straying over the physical border into the virtual. Somalian emigres communicate with each other world-around without the lines of communication going in and out of Somalia itself. The communication, thus the community, is released from its bounded emplacement. To be Somalian--and to be any other national identity--is to be global and virtual.

To encapsulate, increasingly we are operating in a post-place, post-identity process of placeless identification.

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