Sending a good-morning greeting with a bouquet of flowers; getting tattoos together; sharing recipes: digital media are crucial for such everyday activities that keep families and friends together when they are separated by forced migration. Validating this, a Syrian woman told me: »I would be nothing without my smartphone«.
Findings from Palmberger's ethnographic fieldwork show how digital infrastructure enables refugees to establish multiple co-presences with family and friends that span different geographical locales and coexist at varying physical and virtual proximities. Such a picture contrasts with how refugees are often presented in humanitarian discourses, namely, as passive victims. This talk will examine how, through digitally mediated transnational care and placemaking practices, refugees navigate border regimes and build belonging and citizenry, ultimately enacting citizenship from below.
Monika Palmberger is a senior research fellow in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna, Austria, and an associate research fellow in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leuven, Belgium. She is author of the book How Generations Remember (2016) and co-editor of the books Care across Distance (2018) and Memories on the Move (2016), and is currently an IFK_Research Fellow.
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