Contextual Essay: Refugees & Cyberculture Project

I have been conscious of the plight of refugees, and how that is represented, for a number of years. I also interact with former refugees on a weekly basis, making this subject area of personal interest as well as intellectual interest. My aim for this project was to research the complexities of refugee experiences and gain more insight into a subject area I’m already passionate about. Focusing on cyberculture is an aspect of the refugee experience that I haven’t previously researched – and I quickly learnt there are many complex layers to refugees and cyberculture.

I wanted to make a video series that was accessible for a general audience, so I shaped my video format to be visual and informative. By focusing on four specific topic areas (Engage, Assist, Control & Represent), my aim was to investigate these main aspects that make up the experience of refugees and cyberculture.

I was already aware of how vulnerable refugees are in a world of closed borders and tough regulation, but I didn’t realise until I completed my research for this project just how deep this vulnerability goes. Learning that not only government institutions, but also agencies like UNHCR, require biometric registration before refugees can access help is deeply concerning to me. The experimental practice of biometric systems on refugees also seems highly unethical, and leaves me with more questions than answers. Researching this project has given me a more informed awareness about the many, many complex aspects of a refugee’s experience.

Throughout the production of this project I faced a lot of challenges. The main challenge being that this subject area is simply too vast to fit into four videos. I found I had to cut down on a lot of information to fit within the video format. It proved quite challenging to turn detailed and sometimes complicated concepts into simple sentences –  a skill I think I’ve developed throughout the process of this project. To overcome my need to include everything, I decided to maintain a clear focus throughout each video, hence the four main subject areas explored in the video series. By focusing on specific areas, each video is in itself a representation of the varying refugee experiences and I like that I was able to do that.

Though I am happy with the work I have produced, in the future I would focus more specifically so that I can go into more detail. I realised when I first starting putting my material together that each topic could easily be a 30min video by itself, so a narrower focus would have probably helped make my content clearer. 

Overall, I think my focus on the four main areas of refugees and cyberculture, ‘Engage’, ‘Assist’, ‘Control’, and ‘Represent’ that I chose to research provided an overarching picture of their experiences. I am hopeful that these videos are accessible to a wide audience and though I was not able to go into a great amount of detail for each topic, I’m hoping that the subject matter raised will prompt viewers to consider their perspective on refugees, how it is shaped and maybe even conduct their own further research!

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 9.11.17 pm

Web series available here.

About intersectionalalien

Hi hello people of earth/space/cyberspace, intersectional alien here. I’m still trying to figure out my place on this earth. I like intersectional feminism, feminism in popular culture, LGBTQ+, refugee rights, veganism, mental health, nihilism, travelling, unlearning institutional conditioning, good tunes and consuming and creating stories.
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