In this article, I present the concept of sociability as a preferable alternative to current network theories. I apply Simmel’s concept of sociability to the bonding that occurs among ethnic networks at both the community and global levels. I argue for the need to separate the sociability elements of enjoyment and pleasure in time and place. I focus on the diaspora tourism of Dutch Hindustanis to show that joy and pleasure occur both when shopping in India and when giving gifts in the Netherlands. Furthermore, I argue that gifts purchased in India create bonding within close ethnic circles. As a result, these gifts become part of the material culture of the group, contributing to a feeling of home, ethnic consciousness and transnational bonds. Finally, I suggest that this joy and pleasure can be repeated because many of these moments are recorded with video cameras and photographs. Through this analysis, I demonstrate that transnational sociability, exemplified in diaspora tourism (specifically in shopping and gift giving), generates bonding both at the ethnic group and global level. I thus aim to add specificity to studies of transnational ethnic networks.
Download the full paper here