Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
PaperSession-29: Methodologies 2
Friday, 04/Oct/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Elija Cassidy
Location: P413
(cap. 54)

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Mapping the migrant digital space, methodological challenges and preliminary results

Ahmad Kamal, Luca Rossi

IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

This paper, based on the ongoing research activities of the project [omitted], presents an effort to study migration-related social media resources, which we define as Migrant Digital Space (MDS), across four European countries (Greece, Germany, Denmark and Sweden). The paper will first describe the process and challenges of “mapping” MDS before proceeding to show how the collected data variously reflects critical incidents offline, thereby suggesting that the data could serve as a useful resource to study the interplay of human movement and ICTs, as well as serving to illuminate hidden aspects of Europe’s recent history of migration which, reaching a peak of influx of migrants in 2015, acts as a background for the paper.


Nicholas John, Aysha Agbarya

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

We present the first study of Facebook unfriending in the context of the relations between a social minority and majority. We conducted in-depth interviews with 20 ‘48 Palestinians (Palestinian citizens of Israel) that explored their unfriending of Jewish Israeli Facebook friends. Nearly all of the interviewees reported unfriending a Jewish Israeli against a background of racist hate speech. For the more politically-oriented interviewees, unfriending was a kind of punching up, an expression of power in a context where they are structurally disadvantaged. These interviewees reported more positive feelings about the act of unfriending (e.g. relief) and active feelings about the behavior that caused the unfriending (especially anger). Politically inactive interviewees showed more negative and passive feelings (disappointment in their Jewish Facebook friends, and fear). For them, unfriending was more like walking away from troubling interactions (because of anti-Arab racism), or withdrawing from social surveillance that could lead to trouble with employers or their college/university. Where dyadic pairs on Facebook enjoy more or less equal social standing, then there may be something to Facebook’s belief that connecting people across the world can improve cross-cultural understanding. However, when one social group enjoys power over another, it would seem that the positive potential of online ties is limited. This study thus sheds new light on online tie management in the context of structural inequality.


Kathleen {Kaye} Allyson Hare

Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Canada

How to reflexively examine the ways in which the researcher’s own embodied experiences shape knowledge production is a key question within digital and sensory ethnography. Challenges exist around capturing these embodied experiences through conventional reflexive methods, such as voice and field notes. Furthermore, it can be particularly difficult to capture that which is experienced by the researcher as being ‘too intense’ and resultingly shed or refuse/d by the body; (e.g., fleeting, whirling anxious thoughts; spatial suspensions of disorientation; and voids from pushing away difficult feelings). Nevertheless, as examining refuse/d experiences can focus reflexive engagement on the difficult aspects of fieldwork, this methodological area provides a unique niche for inquiry. In this work, I advance knowledge on retaining and reflecting upon too intense experiences. I first draw from phenomenological embodiment theories to put forward the concept of ‘sensorial litter’. I posit that when shed from the body, intense experiences are not lost, but rather manifest materially through digital media as litter (e.g., anxiety filled texts, emails to supervisors, search histories). Retrieving and examining three pieces of sensorial litter from my own ethnographic work, I then demonstrate how this digital detritus may add critical depth to reflexive engagement with embodiment. Specifically, I illustrate how sensorial litter can provide concrete entry points into the ways in which the researcher’s sensing body is perpetually in flux, shaping and re-shaping throughout fieldwork. I argue that sensorial litter can facilitate reflexive engagement that is many-sited, intertextual, resistant to holism, and perceptive ethnographic research’s inevitable shortcomings.

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