For my research project, I am interested in looking at the complex layers of cyberculture and refugees. I’ll be looking at how refugees participate in cybercultures, ranging from recording abuse in detention centres to using Google Maps to make their way through Europe and tracking their journey through social media.
I will also be extending my research to how countries are using technologies to monitor and control the movement of refugees. The current crisis has lead to many radical discussions and actions towards ‘monitoring’ refugees. This extends to the EU maritime agency using drones to monitor refugee boats and the European Commission using the International Space Station for “border surveillance“. The discussions and actions that are currently in place will only continue and expand as the refugee crisis continues, so it will be interesting to look at what this will mean for the future as well.
Finally, I think it’s important to look at representations of ‘the refugee experience’ in comparison to the diverse realities. In the West there is this notion that ‘refugee’ is synonymous with being poverty stricken and/or having no access to technology.
The idea that a refugee cannot own a smartphone is one example that shows there is a disconnect between the representations and realities of refugee experiences. I believe this disconnect plays a critical role in the Western construction of refugees as a collective ‘other’ and am interested to research what the connotations of this disconnect means for refugees, i.e. the hostility they receive.
Alter L. 2015. People are outraged to see refugees with smartphones. They shouldn’t be. Mother Nature Network, available at: http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/gadgets-electronics/blogs/people-are-outraged-see-refugees-smartphones-they-shouldnt-be
Butler J. 2016. Refugee Children On Nauru Release Another Video, Huffington Post, available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/01/21/refugee-children-nauru-video_n_9033174.html
Laurent O. 2015. See How Refugees Use Selfies to Document Their Journey, Time, available at: http://time.com/4064988/refugee-crisis-selfies/
McHugh J. 2015. Refugee Crisis Europe 2015: How Syrians Are Using Smartphones To Travel Through Western Europe, International Business Times, available at: http://www.ibtimes.com/refugee-crisis-europe-2015-how-syrians-are-using-smartphones-travel-through-western-2152496
Stupp C. 2016. EU maritime agency gets ready to use drones to monitor refugee boats, EurActiv.com, available at: https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/eu-maritime-agency-gets-ready-to-use-drones-to-monitor-refugee-boats/