The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Shklovski, Struthers: Of states and borders on the Internet: The role of domain-name extensions in expressions of national identity

This paper has been published as: Irina Shklovski and David M. Struthers (2010) Of States and Borders on the Internet: The Role of Domain Name Extensions in Expressions of Nationalism Online in Kazakhstan. Policy and Internet 2 (4) 107-129.

Paper presenter: 
Shklovski, I., IT University of Copenhagen

The space on the internet is easily traversable and state boundaries in the form of domain extensions can be crossed with no more effort than a click of a mouse. Yet, what might such traversals of imagined state boundaries on the internet mean to the people doing the traversing? This question is especially relevant when considering people from Kazakhstan, a country where notions of statehood and nationalism are contested and are in the process of being renegotiated. Results presented here suggest that residents of Kazakhstan are acutely aware of national boundary traversals as they navigate the internet. The naming of a state-controlled space on the internet, through the use of ccTLDs, does in fact matter to the average user. Citizens of Kazakhstan often identified their activity on the internet as happening within or outside the space of the state to which they felt allegiance and attachment. We argue that naming matters for the creation of not only imagined communities online but also for individual expressions of nationalism on the internet.

Nationalism, ethnic identity, democracy, internet use
Irina Shklovski, David Struthers