The nation-state of Sierra Leone crumbled during the 1990s. A decade-long civil war destroyed the state and brutalized the national imaginings. Despite the lack of institutional structure, some members of its society chose to keep the nation alive through discourse on a listserv, an email forum called Leonenet. Using a multi-methodological approach that incorporated content analysis, interviews with cultural informants, ethnography and participant observation, the findings of the study reported in this article indicate that list members had created a virtual nation, defined as any community that communicates in cyberspace, whose collective discourse and/or actions are aimed towards the building, binding, maintenance, rebuilding or rebinding of a nation. Leonenet was a diasporic communicative space where Sierra Leone’s state-related symbols were generated and then held in conceptual escrow, waiting for the institutional structure to return.
Abstract from Robert Tynes’ Nation-building and the diaspora on Leonenet: a case of Sierra Leone in cyberspace from the journal of New Media & Society