chapter  9
17 Pages

The German Internet Portal Indernet: A Space for Multiple Belongingness


Much has been written about how the Internet can overcome boundaries both geographical and individual.1 Not only worldwide communication seems possible, but it also seems that users can change their identity online, thus overcoming boundaries faced offl ine. However, after the initial phase of Internet enthusiasm, many scholars argued that not all boundaries are overcome and others are developed anew.2 The discussion about the digital divide began, analyzing how certain regions of the world and groups of people are barred from using the Internet. It was acknowledged that there is a “Western” bias not only in the technology, but also in Internet studies.3 Scholars showed, for example, that boundaries of language and culture remain,4 Internet spaces are used for exclusionary purposes,5 and transnational communication is considered a threat by governments.6 Kolko et al., in particular, argue that virtual communication cannot be seen as independent from offl ine experiences. The latter are carried over to the online spaces and cannot be overcome totally even by changing one’s identity online. Therefore, they argue that, for example, racialized identities matter in virtual space just like in “real” life.7 In this volume, Khiabany and Sreberny (Chapter 13, this volume) argue that offl ine differences have to be taken into account if one wants to effectively internationalize Internet studies.