REPRESENT

The representation of refugees, through visual framing and language, plays a crucial role in shaping the way they are perceived and systematically handled. The discourse, or system of representation, around refugees is shaped by the the concept of ‘othering’. By creating a binary opposition model of ‘us’ and ‘them’, othering creates a disconnect with the real life experiences of refugees. The concept of othering stems from colonialism and eurocentrism, working as a categorisation system that divides the world into a dichotomy of ‘the west’ and ‘the rest’. By oversimplifying the concept of ‘difference’ and reducing diverse societies into collective others, ‘the rest’ are effectively dehumanised and considered inferior to the West.

Visual framing of refugees is significant because it creates perceptions of refugees and informs our ideas about them.

Images shape what can and cannot be seen and, indirectly, what can and cannot be thought.

(Bleiker R, Campbell D, Hutchison, E & Nicholson, X. 2013)

This process of dehumanisation removes the representation of refugees as individuals seeking humanitarian assistance and frames them as a mass threat to our sovereignty and security. As shown in ‘Represent’, the persistence of images of refugees in large groups on boats or behind wires continues the rhetoric of them as a collective other, as the images remove any sign of an identifiable victim. Othering is directly linked to the idea Western critics have that refugees with smartphones aren’t in need of help and therefore cannot be granted refugee status. Seeing refugees with modern day technology that westerners also use forces critics to no longer view them as “relics of a cultural past that helps separate them from us”. This representation of refugees challenges the view of refugees as a separate other, hence the confusion and criticism that has arisen from these images.

The image of Aylan Kurdi and the emotional response it garnered temporarily ‘humanised’ the plight of refugees and also challenged the conception of a separate other. This images caused a ‘reframe’ of the refugee crisis, whereby people in the West were able to connect with the humanity of death and form a “common in-group identity” (Jones J, 2015). The formation of this common identity that “we are all human”, leads to a desire to help these people who are now part of an in-group. The supportive response that followed this image lead to pressure for “a compassionate response, and the government’s subsequent decision to accept 12,000 Syrian refugees” (McLouglin L, 2016).

The language and visual framing of refugees informs the systematic treatment they receive, and vice versa. Dehumanising images teamed with terms like ‘economic migrants’, ‘illegals’ and ‘boat people’, creates a climate of moral disengagement and perpetuates the rhetoric of asylum seekers as a threat. Moral disengagement involves the disabling of moral codes to make immoral behaviour justified.

diagram2

This moral disengagement has been constructed by the Australian Government to justify actions against refugees that the UN has declared are in direct violation of human rights.

The discourse of visual framing and language inform the climate of tolerance and intolerance towards refugees. Humanisation and individual stories of refugees are crucial to represent refugees as humans seeking asylum and not a separate other and a collective threat.

References:

Bleiker R., Campbell D., Hutchison., E & Nicholson., X. 2013. The visual dehumanisation of refugees, Australian Journal of Political Science, vol 38, No. 4, pp 398-416, available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2013.840769

Gabriel Y. 2012. The Other and Othering: A short Introduction, available at http://www.yiannisgabriel.com/2012/09/the-other-and-othering-short.html

Godfrey B & Sammut C 2015. The Migration Crisis: No Human is Illegal, The Round Table, available at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Baldacchino_Godfrey/publication/283815977_The_Migration_Crisis_No_Human_is_Illegal/links/566d8fac08ae1a797e403908.pdf

Jensen S.Q. 2011. Othering, identity formation and agency. Qualitative studies, 2(2), pp.63-78, available at http://ojs.statsbiblioteket.dk/index.php/qual/article/view/5510

Hall S, & Gieben B (eds.). 1992. The West and the rest: discourse and power, in Formations of Modernity, Polity Press, Cambridge, pp 276-280

McLoughlin L. 2016. No Shame: The Science Behind Why Most Australians Feel Okay About Tormenting Asylum Seekers, Junkee, available at http://junkee.com/no-shame-why-most-australians-feel-okay-about-tormenting-asylum-seekers/72827

Medhora S. 2015. Australian senator Cory Bernardi criticises Aylan Kurdi’s father for fleeing Turkey, The Guardian, available at http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/sep/08/australian-senator-cory-bernardi-blames-aylan-kurdis-father-for-childs-drowning

Ramgobin R. 2015. Dr Janelle Jones on The image of Aylan Kurdi has made ‘everyone become human’, Independent, available at  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/the-image-of-aylan-kurdi-has-made-everyone-become-human-10487030.html

Smith H. 2015. Shocking images of drowned Syrian boy show tragic plight of refugees, The Guardian, available at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/02/shocking-image-of-drowned-syrian-boy-shows-tragic-plight-of-refugees

Williams A. 2015. Stop shaming Syrian refugees for using cellphones, The Daily Dot, available at: http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/syria-refugees-cell-phone-use/

Soundtrack:

Rafi:ki. 2015. rafi:ki / mixtape 015 / instrumental hiphop / trip-hop, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0), Soundcloud, available at https://soundcloud.com/rafi-ki/rafiki-mixtape-015-instrumental-hiphop-triphop

Footage in order of appearance:

The Next Gag. 2015. I Came By Boat, Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mwPGUscQ_g

Ramgobin R. 2015. Dr Janelle Jones on The image of Aylan Kurdi has made ‘everyone become human’, Independent, available at  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/the-image-of-aylan-kurdi-has-made-everyone-become-human-10487030.html

Images in order of appearance:

Ggia – Vlastní dílo. 2015. Refugees coming across the Aegean Sea to the Greek island of Lesbos , in the background is Turkey, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4530328

AP. 2015. Refugees go on hunger strike in Australian Detention Centre, Al Jazeera, available at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/01/australia-refugees-hunger-strike-freedom-201511913946879762.html

New America. 2015. Policy Responses to the Refugee Crisis, CC BY, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An-sbY_0w2k

[unknown]. 2011. Image of US and THEM, Bilgrimage, available at http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/good-catholic-institutions-pro-gay.html

Freedom House. 2015. Syrian Refugees: Migrants clamber onto a train at Gevgelija train station in Macedonia, close to the border with Greece July 30, 2015, Public Domain, Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/21076290500

Getty Images, Police stand infront of a mass group of refugees, BBC News, available at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35130213

Euractiv.com with agencies. 2016. A registration sign at a hotspot. [Frontex], Euractiv, available at http://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/greece-will-process-asylum-claims-in-two-weeks-including-the-appeal/

Affect Lab. 2015. Migration & Mobiles, Affect Lab.org, available at https://affectlab.org/2015/09/18/migration-selfies/

Wylie A. 2013. Tent homes on Nauru., The Sydney Morning Herald, available at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/detention-centres-inhumane-un-20131126-2y8hk.html

Freedom House. 2015. GRAPHIC CONTENT: A Turkish police officer stands next to a migrant child’s dead body off the shores in Bodrum, southern Turkey, on September 2, 2015 after a boat carrying refugees sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos, Public Domain Mark 1.0, Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/21076307990  

Freedom House. 2015. Aylan Kurdi’s Body: A Turkish police officer carries a migrant child’s dead body off the shores in Bodrum, southern Turkey, on Sept. 2 after a boat carrying refugees sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos. (AFP/Getty Images), Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/21076380100

CAFOD Photo Library. 2015. Refugee crisis in Europe: As the biggest refugee crisis in recent times grips Europe, CAFOD and our supporters are calling on the Prime Minister to do more to support vulnerable Syrian refugees resettling in the UK as quickly as possible., Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafodphotolibrary/22092760064

DFID. 2014. Iraqi refugee girl with her family at Newroz camp where they are being helped by the International Rescue Committee, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0), Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfid/14924850775

Freedom House. 2015. A Syrian refugee from Deir Ezzor, holding his son and daughter, breaks out in tears of joy after arriving via a flimsy inflatable boat crammed with about 15 men, women and children on the shore of the island of Kos in Greece, Aug. 15. (Daniel Etter/The New York Times), Public Domain Mark 1.0, Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/20643335423

Simonarson G (@gissisim). 2015. [Screenshot] Gotten a lot of requests to help this man and his daughter. Anyone know people in Beirut able to locate him? #BuyPens, Twitter, available at: https://twitter.com/GissiSim/status/636277172118925313

By Noborder Network (no borders no precarity  Uploaded by PanchoS) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:No_borders,_no_precarity_-_Shut_Down_FRONTEX_Warsaw_2008.jpg

[unknown]. 2015. EU law requires asylum seekers to have their fingerprints registered on a central database, The Independent, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-four-ways-european-countries-treat-asylum-seekers-like-convicted-criminals-10483185.html

Von Irish Defence Forces. 2015. Irish Navy rescues migrants within the Triton mission (June 2015), Wikimedia, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfmagazine/18898637736/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41045858

Wylie A. 2013. Tent homes on Nauru., The Sydney Morning Herald, available at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/detention-centres-inhumane-un-20131126-2y8hk.html

By Noborder Network [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons, available at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Migrant_hunting_EU_agency_-_Shut_Down_FRONTEX_Warsaw_2008.jpg

[unknown]. 2016. Secure National ID Cards, Gemalto, available at http://www.gemalto.com/govt/identity

[Screenshot] WIFI?CHARGING INITIATIVE AT KELETI, 11th September, Tumblr, available at http://keleti-connected.tumblr.com/post/128845049631

Syrova/AP O. 2015. Jonas Kakoschke (right) and Bakary Conan chat at Kakoschke’s flat in Berlin. Kakoschke gave shelter to Conan with his initiative Refugees Welcome, which has now placed 26 refugees in private homes, available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/01/berlin-group-behind-airbnb-for-refugees-overwhelmed-by-offers-of-help

[Screenshot] New Humans of Australia, Facebook, available at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1648203498752554&fref=ts

Simonarson G (@gissisim). 2015. “Finally found him =) Been a lot of work, but it was worth it! Now lets help them!”, Twitter, available at: https://twitter.com/search?q=Finally%20found%20him%20%3D)%20Been%20a%20lot%20of%20work%2C%20but%20it%20was%20worth%20it!%20Now%20lets%20help%20them!%20from%3Agissisim&src=typd&lang=en  

Archdox. 2015. Clouds Over Sidra (2015) by Chris Milk and Gabo Arora. Promotional Still., Archdox WordPress, available at: https://archdox.wordpress.com/tag/clouds-over-sidra/

Project Open Network. 2015. Project Open Network volunteer talking with refugees and migrants in Tovarnik, Croatia, on September 20th., abc NEWS, available at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/volunteers-bring-wi-fi-refugees-europe-backpacks/story?id=33953223

Free the Children NAURU. 2016. Rest in Peace, Omid, Facebook, available at https://www.facebook.com/839867502797443/photos/a.840306886086838.1073741828.839867502797443/942800289170830/?type=3&theater

Lima M. 2015. A group of Syrian refugees charged their cellphones using a television station’s satellite truck outside the Keleti train station in Budapest last week, The New York Times, available at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/reporters-notebook/migrants/phone-charging-stations

Muheisen M. 2015. Refugee holding phone with google maps and directions, Time, available at: http://time.com/4062120/see-how-smartphones-have-become-a-lifeline-for-refugees/

Marko Djurica/Reuters. 2015. Alvand, 18, from Syria takes a selfie with his friends as they walk along a railway track after crossing into Hungary from the border with Serbia last week., CBC, available at http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/for-syrian-refugees-smartphones-are-a-lifeline-not-a-toy-1.3221349

By DFID – UK Department for International Development [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Refugee_children_from_Syria_at_a_clinic_in_Ramtha,_northern_Jordan_(9613477263).jpg

Specia M. 2015. Smartphones line a makeshift shop in the Za’atari refugee camp on Sept. 19, 2015, Mashable, available at: http://mashable.com/2015/09/22/zaatari-refugee-camp-smartphones-whatsapp/#4uqZDzJQcEqp

Free the Children NAURU, Children holding up signs in protest, Facebook, available at https://www.facebook.com/Free-the-Children-NAURU-839867502797443/photos

Posted in Research Project: Refugees & Cyberculture | Leave a comment

CONTROL

The control of refugees by government institutions and agencies involves surveillance, the collection of biodata, internet censorship and online propaganda. All these interactions with cyberculture are made with the intention to control the voice and movement of refugees.

The proposals made by Frontex, EU Member States and private tech companies earlier this year displayed a pattern of developing tools to track and control the movement of refugees. It’s interesting that the ideas proposed to give refugees smartcard IDs and building on existing biometric data systems are already in practice with the UNHCR.

As stated in Control, the EU not only support the actions of the UNHCR, but also assist them financially. The UNHCR’s database, which holds the identities of millions of refugees, raises concerns over privacy and identity theft due to the interest of the EU in gaining access to the database and also due to the vulnerability any infiltration into the system would would place on the refugees registered.

Biometric data is especially sensitive, because unlike credit cards or even social security numbers, this information can’t be changed.

– S Larson, The Daily Dot, 2016

The practice of biometric systems on refugees also raises concerns over its involvement with humanitarian experimentation. As stated in Control, the UNHCR has been registering refugees through biometric systems since 2002. The use of new technologies for registration are initially piloted in humanitarian settings. The UNHCR portray their biometric data practices simultaneously as uncontroversial and experimental, but it is important to consider how the development of these new technologies “‘loops back’ upon society in ways that affect the constitution of social order and identity” (Jackobsen K,Experimentation in humanitarian locations: UNHCR and biometric registration of Afghan refugees, pp154, 2015). In the broader political context, humanitarian experimentation is practiced with the end goal of utilising biometric systems to strengthen homeland security. This undoubtedly raises the question: who is this security system designed to protect?

References:

Bohlin A. 2008. Protection at the cost of privacy? A study of the biometric registration of refugees, University of Lund, available at http://lup.lub.lu.se/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=1556387&fileOId=1563972

Favell A. 2015. Using biometric technology to register refugees, Computer Weekly, available at: http://www.computerweekly.com/photostory/4500254579/Aid-organisations-using-technology-to-help-Syrian-refugees-in-the-Middle-East/2/Using-biometric-technology-to-register-refugees

Ferris E. 2014. Why Humanitarians Should Pay Attention to Cybersecurity, Brookings, available at: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2014/06/02-cybersecurity-humanitarians-ferris

Graham-Harrison E & Taylor D. 2016. EU asks tech firms to pitch refugee-tracking systems, The Guardian, available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/18/eu-asks-tech-firms-to-pitch-refugee-tracking-systems

Keane B. 2010. Australia says no to people-smuggling — via YouTube, Crikey, available at https://www.crikey.com.au/2010/06/11/australia-says-no-to-people-smuggling-via-youtube/

Hasham N. 2015. Internet ban to stop bullying, not free speech: Nauruan government, Sydney Morning Herald, available at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/internet-ban-to-stop-bullying-not-free-speech-nauruan-government-20151104-gkqggm.html

Jacobsen K. 2015. Experimentation in humanitarian locations: UNHCR and biometric registration of Afghan refugees, SAGE Journals, available at: http://sdi.sagepub.com/content/46/2/144.full

Larson S. 2016. Refugees rely on iris scans to receive food and aid, even as privacy concerns loom, The Daily Dot, available at http://www.dailydot.com/technology/biometric-data-refugees-jordan/

Laughland A. 2014. Angus Campbell warns asylum seekers not to travel to Australia by boat,The Guardian, available at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/11/angus-campbell-stars-in-videos-warning-asylum-seekers-not-to-travel-by-boat

Leivada D. 2016. Australia Wants To Scare Away Migrants With A Movie, Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/australia-journey-movie_us_56f9924fe4b0a372181aa7e4?section=australia

Marin L, & Krajčíková K. 2016. Deploying Drones in Policing Southern European Borders: Constraints and Challenges for Data Protection and Human Rights, Drones & Unmanned Aerial Systems, available at: http://doc.utwente.nl/94391/1/11012015_LM.KK.Drones..pdf

Raines S. 2015. Nauru Facebook ban came ‘at request of Australian Government’, refugee advocates say, ABC News, available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-05/refugee-advocates-claim-nauru-facebook-ban-requested-australia/6444506

SBS2Australia. 2016. The refugee movie you paid for – The Feed, Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0G_712ylOg

Stares J. 2016. EU plans drone fleet to track migrants, Politico, available at http://www.politico.eu/article/european-union-fleet-of-drones-to-track-migrants-refugees/

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/

Soundtrack:

Rafi:ki. 2015. rafi:ki / mixtape 015 / instrumental hiphop / trip-hop, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0), Soundcloud, available at https://soundcloud.com/rafi-ki/rafiki-mixtape-015-instrumental-hiphop-triphop

Footage in order of appearance:

ABF TV. 2014. General Campbell’s message to people who travel illegally by boat to Australia – English, Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BypuBsE_Eq8

Ruptly TV. Greece: Drone captures refugee boat arriving on Lesbos, Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z82oZIoGNTE

IN THE NOW, Officials fear EU collapse, as hundreds of refugees flow from camps near Slovenian border, Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVb8b1BtUTY

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Jordan: Iris Scanning Program In Action, Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giVNT450Qss

Journey The Movie. 2016. سفر – نسخه فارسی فیلم (فیلم کامل), Youtube, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB2-t8FJA5A

Images in order of appearance:

Délmagyarország/Schmidt Andrea. 2015. Barrier in Hungarian-Serbian border, http://www.delmagyar.hu/szeged_hirek/ketfajta_ideiglenes_hatarzar_epul_a_szerb_hataron/2438738/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41777598  

Reuters. 2016. Migrants are inspected by policemen as they disembark from the Norwegian vessel Siem Pilot at Pozzallo’s harbour, Italy, March 29, 2016., available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-arrivals-rocket-in-italy-amid-warnings-turkey-deal-could-force-migrants-on-more-a6959491.html

Mavrou O. 2015. Athens, December 7, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency, Independent Balkan Newsagency, available at http://www.balkaneu.com/berlin-paris-autonomy-frontex/

Von Irish Defence Forces. 2015. Irish Navy rescues migrants within the Triton mission (June 2015), Wikimedia, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfmagazine/18898637736/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41045858

Rockcohen. 2008. The flag of Europe, official flag of both the Council of Europe and the European Union. http://www.flickr.com/photos/robdeman/2390666040/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24261831

Euractiv.com with agencies. 2016. A registration sign at a hotspot. [Frontex], Euractiv, available at http://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/greece-will-process-asylum-claims-in-two-weeks-including-the-appeal/

[unknown]. 2016. Secure National ID Cards, Gemalto, available at http://www.gemalto.com/govt/identity

[unknown]. Phone with tracking app, available at http://www.toptrackingapps.com/how-to-choose-the-best-tracking-app/#more-3526

[unknown]. 2015. EU law requires asylum seekers to have their fingerprints registered on a central database, The Independent, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-four-ways-european-countries-treat-asylum-seekers-like-convicted-criminals-10483185.html

Moore P. 2011. A newly arrived Somali woman has her finger scanned at a registration centre in Dagahaley refugee camp in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee complex on July 24, 2011 by the U.N., Know Terrorists, available at http://www.balkaneu.com/berlin-paris-autonomy-frontex/

McCullough D. 2013. Drone with Go Pro camera attached, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0), Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/69214385@N04/8725078749

By Noborder Network [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons, available at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Migrant_hunting_EU_agency_-_Shut_Down_FRONTEX_Warsaw_2008.jpg

By Noborder Network (no borders no precarity  Uploaded by PanchoS) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:No_borders,_no_precarity_-_Shut_Down_FRONTEX_Warsaw_2008.jpg

Widak A. 2015. Refugees at Budapest Railway station check their phones Artur Widak/NurPhoto/REX, The Independent, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/surprised-that-syrian-refugees-have-smartphones-well-sorry-to-break-this-to-you-but-youre-an-idiot-10489719.html

Wylie A. 2013. Tent homes on Nauru., The Sydney Morning Herald, available at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/detention-centres-inhumane-un-20131126-2y8hk.html

Garrett J. 2015. Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (centre) meets with participants of the Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers meeting in Sydney., ABC News, available at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-10/pacific-islands-forum-foreign-ministers-meeting/6611006

CdaMVvWgS. 2005. Nauruan districts of Denigomodu and Nibok, Public Domain, Wikimedia, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=228217

ABC. 2013. The Australian detention centre on Nauru., Radio Australian, available at http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/onairhighlights/australian-politicians-visit-nauru-detention-centre/1237070

Free the Children NAURU, Children holding up signs in protest, Facebook, available at https://www.facebook.com/Free-the-Children-NAURU-839867502797443/photos

[Screenshot] notopeoplesmugging, Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/user/notopeoplesmuggling/videos

[Screenshot] ABF TV. Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPEIjaHkw0wXGDzK6EuC96g  

[Screenshot] Journeythemovie, Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB2-t8FJA5A

[Screenshot] @daringdanaerys. 2015. Warsan Shire poem extract, Twitter, available at https://twitter.com/daringdaenerys/status/640179238138679296

Posted in Research Project: Refugees & Cyberculture | Leave a comment

ASSIST

The public sphere is a powerful tool for weak ties to connect and become strong ties. In the case of refugees, it has played an integral in allowing citizens to communicate with and campaign for refugees. Social media is a key part of allowing people to assist refugees and can be instrumental in the campaigning for individuals to gain crowdfunded assistance.

Crowdfunding relies on “the power of crowds and networking” (Bannerman 2013) and is a great tool to provide widespread grassroots assistance for those who otherwise would not have access to much needed assistance. Crowdfunding is not only the result of networking, but also acts as a political tool through “activating social capital” (Díaz J.R. & Cacheda B.G., 2016), whereby people are able to orchestrate assistance for refugees outside of institutional constructs. The case of Adbul Halim al-Attar highlighted the power of social capital to facilitate a movement through #buypens, which allowed Twitter user Gissur Simonarson to not only find Abdul, but also set up a crowdfunding campaign for him. While the crowdfunding campaign highlighted the power of social capital to help an individual, the payments still had to be made through an institution (Paypal). As indicated through the screenshots below, this made and continues to make the actual payment process difficult and limits the political power of crowdfunding.

At the peak of social capital is the use of open source websites and apps to provide up-to-date, decentralised and immediate information for refugees. The recognition of this need and supplying the means to meet this need reflects the ideology of people looking to assist refugees. As stated by IRC’s technology coordinator, Rey Rodrigues, in Assist, open source works to enable refugees to be self-sufficient and have safe access to important information.

Reference list:

ABC News. 2016. #LetThemStay: Thousands gather in Australia-wide protests against return of asylum seekers to Nauru, ABC News, available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-08/let-them-stay-protests-against-return-of-asylum-seekers-to-nauru/7150462

Bannerman S. 2013. Crowdfunding Culture, Journal of Mobile Media, available at http://wi.mobilities.ca/crowdfunding-culture/

Butler J. 2015. Crowd-Funding Campaign For Phone Credit For Manus And Nauru Refugees, Huffington Post, available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2015/12/13/phone-manus-nauru-crowd-fund_n_8801820.html

Carfrae P. 2015. Driving lessons for refugees are set to change lives through crowd-funding campaign, Courier Mail, available at: http://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/southwest/driving-lessons-for-refugees-are-set-to-change-lives-through-crowdfunding-campaign/news-story/97fef94dcb1270d0c877b690c5433f74

Dearden L. 2015. #BuyPens: Syrian refugee photographed selling pens to feed children uses crowdfunding to start businesses, Independent, available at:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/buypens-syrian-refugee-photographed-selling-pens-to-feed-children-uses-crowdfunding-to-start-a6759331.html

Díaz, J.R. & Cacheda, B.G., 2016. Financing Social Activism: Crowdfunding and Advocatory Social Movement in Spain in Times of Crisis. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance, pp. 139-148, available at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Javier_Ramos25/publication/297737982_Financing_Social_Activism_Crowdfunding_and_Advocatory_Social_Movement_in_Spain_in_Times_of_Crisis/links/56e2896908ae3328e0782e9d.pdf

Doyle E. 2015. Crowdfunding Campaign To Celebrate Asylum Seekers In Australia, B&T, available at: http://www.bandt.com.au/advertising/crowdfunding-campaign-to-celebrate-asylum-seekers-in-australia

Foyer K. 2015. Kate on the development of the project, Tumblr, available at: http://keleti-connected.tumblr.com/post/128850189731/kate-on-the-development-of-the-project

Karas T. 2015. How entrepreneurs and aid groups are helping refugees with digital tools, Mashable, available at: http://mashable.com/2015/11/08/refugees-technology-aid/?utm_campaign=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial#KWjpm53Xcaq3

Milk C. 2015. How virtual reality can create the ultimate empathy machine, TED Talks, available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/chris_milk_how_virtual_reality_can_create_the_ultimate_empathy_machine?language=en

Migration Aid. 2015. Available at  http://www.migrationaid.net/infoaid/

SBS2Australia. 2015. Airbnb For Refugees: The Feed, Youtube, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9zwo3GYGg4

Zappone C. 2015. Migrant or refugees crisis: what’s in a hashtag?, The Sydney Morning Herald, available at: http://www.smh.com.au/world/migrant-crisis/what-your-migrant-crisis-hashtag-says-about-you-20150913-gjlkm2.html

Soundtrack:

Rafi:ki. 2015. rafi:ki / mixtape 015 / instrumental hiphop / trip-hop, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0), Soundcloud, available at https://soundcloud.com/rafi-ki/rafiki-mixtape-015-instrumental-hiphop-triphop

Footage in order of appearance:

Dolan Mahmoud. 2015. “Refugees are welcome here”, Youtube, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYopI7aQyV4

SBS2Australia. 2015. Airbnb For Refugees: The Feed, Youtube, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9zwo3GYGg4

AJ+. 2015. German Website ‘Refugees Welcome’ Matches Refugees With Available Rooms, Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gdwzh8fuWqs

Vrse, 2015. Clouds Over Sidra, Youtubeavailable at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUosdCQsMkM

Milk C. 2015. How virtual reality can create the ultimate empathy machine, TED Talks, available at https://www.ted.com/talks/chris_milk_how_virtual_reality_can_create_the_ultimate_empathy_machine?language=en

Images in order of appearance:

[Screen recording] #refugeecrisis tag on Twitter, Twitter, available at https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=news&q=%23refugeecrisis&src=typd

[Screenshot] New Humans of Australia, Facebook, available at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1648203498752554&fref=ts

Syrova/AP O. 2015. Jonas Kakoschke (right) and Bakary Conan chat at Kakoschke’s flat in Berlin. Kakoschke gave shelter to Conan with his initiative Refugees Welcome, which has now placed 26 refugees in private homes, available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/01/berlin-group-behind-airbnb-for-refugees-overwhelmed-by-offers-of-help

Simonarson G (@gissisim). 2015. [Screenshot] “Gotten a lot of requests to help this man and his daughter. Anyone know people in Beirut able to locate him? #BuyPens”, Twitter, available at: https://twitter.com/GissiSim/status/636277172118925313

Simonarson G (@gissisim). 2015. [Screenshot] “Finally found him =) Been a lot of work, but it was worth it! Now lets help them!”, Twitter, available at: https://twitter.com/search?q=Finally%20found%20him%20%3D)%20Been%20a%20lot%20of%20work%2C%20but%20it%20was%20worth%20it!%20Now%20lets%20help%20them!%20from%3Agissisim&src=typd&lang=en   

Simonarson G (@gissisim). 2015. [Screenshot] 3 hours in. 3x our goal =) How many x the goal can we go? #BuyPens, Twitter, available at https://twitter.com/GissiSim/status/636999291811295236

Simonarson G (@gissisim). 2015. [Screenshot] #BuyPens Campaign Stats, Twitter, available at https://twitter.com/GissiSim/status/639712239642091520

Simonarson G (@gissisim). 2015. [Screenshot] Photos of Abdul’s new restaurant opening with the money raised through #BuyPens! Good job everyone =) Video soon., Twitter, available at https://twitter.com/GissiSim/status/667007675834699776

Project Open Network. 2015. Project Open Network volunteer talking with refugees and migrants in Tovarnik, Croatia, on September 20th., abc NEWS, available at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/volunteers-bring-wi-fi-refugees-europe-backpacks/story?id=33953223

[Screenshot] WIFI/CHARGING INITIATIVE AT KELETI, Tumblr, available at http://keleti-connected.tumblr.com/

[Screenshot] WIFI?CHARGING INITIATIVE AT KELETI, 11th September, Tumblr, available at http://keleti-connected.tumblr.com/post/128845049631

[Screenshot] WIFI?CHARGING INITIATIVE AT KELETI, 11th September, Tumblr, available at http://keleti-connected.tumblr.com/post/128845049631

[Screenshot] refugeeinfo.eu homepage, available at http://refugeeinfo.eu/

[Screen recording] refugeeinfo.eu Greece, available at https://refugeeinfo.eu/greece/en/

Bisnode.hr. 2015. Refugee Phrasebook Cover, CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0), Wikimedia, available at: http://blog.wikimedia.org/2015/12/24/refugee-phrasebook/

Affect Lab. 2015. Migration & Mobiles, Affect Lab.org, available at https://affectlab.org/2015/09/18/migration-selfies/

[Screenshot] #refugeesnotwelcome, Twitter, available at https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=%23refugeesnotwelcome&src=typd

[Screenshot] @alxfraser. 2015. #refugeescrisis serious question, syrian man seeking asylum in germany on @BBCNews, how does he afford a Samsung smartphone?, Twitter, available at https://twitter.com/alxfraser/status/644983648169644032

Posted in Research Project: Refugees & Cyberculture | Leave a comment

ENGAGE

 

Refugee engagement with cyberculture is varied according to ability to access devices and networks and utilise said access. As shown in Engage, it is clear that engagement with cyberculture can be critical in many situations; travelling by foot or by sea, being standstill in a refugee camp or detention centre and through to resettlement in a location with an unknown social structure, culture and language.

Social media and the public sphere play a key role for refugees to map their path to a country they’ve heard is safe and access much needed resources along the way, such as food & shelter and wifi & charging ports. In fact, the public sphere has actively worked to transform the nature and facilitation of migration networks. Migration networks are built on social capital, which involves communications with known persons (strong ties) and unknown persons (weak ties), and helps lower the costs and risks that refugees may encounter, as well as strengthening their ability to actually seek asylum. Social media has allowed for weak ties to evolve, meaning refugees have access to a bigger pool of information. It is important, however, to note that reliance on weak ties can mean facing a higher risk of receiving unrealistic or false information.

The internet is an open information source, which is especially important for refugees. Internet access to the public sphere allows refugees to share decentralised information instantly, relatively inexpensively and on a widespread level. As they are considered illegal persons in many countries, they cannot request information or assistance through regulated immigrant services. Social media therefore allows for refugees to “form an underground communication structure” (Dekker R. & Engbersen G. 2012), where they can engage with the much needed information on their road to seeking asylum and resettling.

In terms of utilising this access, it is also important to be wary of the digital divide. This refers to inequality not only in terms of internet access, but also ability to utilise access. This inequality is affected by “socio-economic status, level of education, urban/rural residence and age can cause significant differences”(Dekker R. & Engbersen G. 2012). Censorship is another aspect that affects the digital divide, as shown on Nauru where Facebook and general internet access has been banned and censored by the Nauru & Australian government. In Za’atari refugee camp this digital divide also exists and is heavily influenced by the social systems, the economy of the camp and the temporary setup of the camp. As stated in Engage, mobile phone access is not considered a basic need for refugees, which also plays a role in creating a digital divide.

This divide has been recognised and training courses have been implemented in various refugee camps and urban resettlements (such as Za’atari, Niamey, Niger and New Zealand) as a way to close this divide. This not only highlights the importance of access but also the recognition by non refugees as to the importance of access and being able to utilise it.

Co-ordinated Action

In September 2015, hundreds of refugees engaged in co-ordinated action from three separate locations: Budapest train station, a refugee holding camp near the Serbian border and Biscke, a town outside of Budapest. These groups of refugees were lead to believe Hungarian transport would take them to the Austrian border, but they were instead lead to camps.

Having an instant online connection with each other allowed groups of refugees to co-ordinate a collective march in the direction of Austria. Those who were not part of this movement were able to instantly view what was happening and join the mass movement.

A Lifeline At Sea

Syrian refugee, Firas, discusses his first hand account of travelling by boat from Turkey to Greece. This heartbreaking story highlights the importance of mobile phone access to locate and direct one’s self to safety, or least have a final communication with loved ones.

We were exactly between Turkey and Greece. I know because I checked the GPS on my phones…I sent a Whatsapp message giving my GPS and asking them to help us. I also sent my family a message with my GPS and explained the situation but said ‘don’t worry, even though the weather is bad, we’ll make it across’.

The economy of Za’atari

A 2015 study sample of mobile phone use in the camp found that 89% of refugees owned a mobile handset and 85% owned at least one SIM card (it is common to have multiple SIM cards to access different carriers and/or avoid surveillance from the Syrian government. Multiple SIM card use is also reflective of refugee camp context, with it’s lack of network infrastructure, lack of reliability of networks etc. 

As refugees have to earn money to pay for mobile technology and services through several means, the economy of the camp has a strong focus on electronics. Shops in camps sell wifi routers, used laptops, mobile handsets and SIM cards. There are 3000 refugee-owned and operated shops within the camp, generating more than 10 million euros a month.

Reference list:

Aljazeera Europe. 2015. Hungary offers buses to transfer refugees to Austria, Aljazeera, available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/hungary-offers-buses-transfer-refugees-austria-150904194534458.html

Australian Human Rights Commission, Immigration detention statistics, available at: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/immigration-detention-statistics

[author unknown]. 2015. Mobile phone app helps Syrian refugees settle in Turkey, Euro News, available at: http://www.euronews.com/2015/02/10/mobile-phone-app-helps-syrian-refugees-settle-in-turkey/

BBC News Trending. 2015. The Syrian refugee who says: ‘Don’t come to Sweden… or think carefully about it’ – BBC Trending, Youtube, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAJcy5k4rb4

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

Dearden L. 2015. Syrian refugee tells how he survived boat sinking in waters where Aylan Kurdi drowned, Independent, available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/syrian-refugee-tells-how-he-survived-boat-sinking-in-waters-where-aylan-kurdi-drowned-10484607.html

Free the Children NAURU, Facebook, available at: https://www.facebook.com/Free-the-Children-NAURU-839867502797443/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Free the Children NAURU, WordPress, available at: https://freethechildrennauru.com/

Lee A. 2015. Aussies Are Talking To Child Asylum Seekers Being Held On Nauru, Buzzfeed News, available at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/alexlee/child-refugees-on-nauru-facebook-page?utm_term=.ahRlv5P00m#.exnVO3Gdd1

Maitland C & Xu, Ying A. 2015 Social Informatics Analysis of Refugee Mobile Phone Use: A Case Study of Za’atari Syrian Refugee Camp (March 31, 2015). TPRC 43: The 43rd Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy Paper. Available at SSRN: http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=142095081069091013107126087078120113014042095000089091121086087094073004121024003092119034022008009024050126000078104002113031006007037073081013100125095116025098054049080103079083111082122016118005028074090069122031065067117096107087088105100026115&EXT=pdf

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

McLaughlin D. 2015. Mass migration guided by mobiles and social media, The Irish Times (reported from Budapest), available at: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/mass-migration-guided-by-mobiles-and-social-media-1.2344662

Pizzi M. 2015. Isolated in Zaatari camp, Syrian refugees find ways to get online, Aljazeera America, available at: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/16/internet-access-zaatari-camp.html

Powell A. 2015. Wi-Fi ‘Saves’ Residents in Jordan Refugee Camp, The Borgen Project, available at: http://borgenproject.org/wi-fi-jordan-refugee-camp/

Williams A. 2015. Stop shaming Syrian refugees for using cellphones, The Daily Dot, available at: http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/syria-refugees-cell-phone-use/

Witty P. 2015. See How Smartphones Have Become a Lifeline for Refugees, Time, available at: http://time.com/4062120/see-how-smartphones-have-become-a-lifeline-for-refugees/

Soundtrack:

Rafi:ki. 2015. rafi:ki / mixtape 015 / instrumental hiphop / trip-hop, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0), Soundcloud, available at https://soundcloud.com/rafi-ki/rafiki-mixtape-015-instrumental-hiphop-triphop

Footage in order of appearance:

All footage of detainees on Nauru accessed from Save The Children Nauru Facebook Page, 2016, available at: https://www.facebook.com/Free-the-Children-NAURU-839867502797443/?fref=ts

BBC News Trending. 2015. The Syrian refugee who says: ‘Don’t come to Sweden… or think carefully about it’ – BBC Trending, Youtube, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAJcy5k4rb4

BBC Urdu. 2016. Syria Conflict : Aerial view of Zaatari refugee camp, Youtube, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMDObKVf2VE

The National. 2015. Inside Zaatari Refugee Camp, Youtube, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PptL6TjSIJ4

BBC News Trending. 2015. The Syrian refugee who says: ‘Don’t come to Sweden… or think carefully about it’ – BBC Trending, Youtube, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAJcy5k4rb4

Euronews, 2015. Mobile phone app helps Syrian refugees settle in Turkey, Live Leak, available at: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=3af_1423593018#7ztw0CXRX9lAdeKj.99

Images in order of appearance:

New America. 2015. Policy Responses to the Refugee Crisis, CC BY, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An-sbY_0w2k

CAFOD Photo Library. 2015. Refugee crisis in Europe, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafodphotolibrary/22094354393/in/album-72157660723785641/

Lima M. 2015. A group of Syrian refugees charged their cellphones using a television station’s satellite truck outside the Keleti train station in Budapest last week, The New York Times, available at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/reporters-notebook/migrants/phone-charging-stations

Hutton G. 2015. “This is a photo of my four young children. The smartphone was really useful to teach them a few German words and keep them busy road with games.”, VICE, available at: http://www.vice.com/de/read/was-bedeutet-flchtlingen-ihr-smartphone

Muheisen M. 2015. Refugee holding phone with google maps and directions, Time, available at: http://time.com/4062120/see-how-smartphones-have-become-a-lifeline-for-refugees/

Williams A. 2015. Stop shaming Syrian refugees for using cellphones, The Daily Dot, available at: http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/syria-refugees-cell-phone-use/

Hatzistavrou I. 2015. Man holds map while refugees take photos on smartphones, Baltimore Sun, available at: http://darkroom.baltimoresun.com/2015/09/daily-brief-sept-21/#10

Powell A. 2015. Advtertising sign on makeshift shop in Za’atari camp, The Borgen Project, available at: http://borgenproject.org/wi-fi-jordan-refugee-camp/

Pizzi M. 2015. A billboard above a shop along Zaatari’s market area, which references various social media platforms and messaging apps that are popular among Syrians, Aljazeera America, available at: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/16/internet-access-zaatari-camp.html

The For Profit Camp. 2016. Electric Wires at Za’atari Camp. The Argentine Post, available at: http://theargentinepost.ga/news/the-for-profit-refugee-camp

Specia M. 2015. Smartphones line a makeshift shop in the Za’atari refugee camp on Sept. 19, 2015, Mashable, available at: http://mashable.com/2015/09/22/zaatari-refugee-camp-smartphones-whatsapp/#4uqZDzJQcEqp

AAP. 2014. Aerial shot of Nauru detention centre, SBS, available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/04/29/nauru-rejects-amnesty-international-visit

All images/screenshots of detainees on Nauru were from Save the Children, NAURU Facebook Page, 2016, available at: https://www.facebook.com/Free-the-Children-NAURU-839867502797443/?fref=ts

Screenshots from Mahmoud Bitar’s Facebook Page, 2016, available at: https://www.facebook.com/mahmoud.bitar66/?fref=ts

Kara M. 2014. Gherbtna app layout, Web Razzi, available at: http://en.webrazzi.com/2014/05/29/gherbtna-provides-syrian-refugees-with-guidance-on-basic-services-and-opportunities-in-host-countries/

Communications Trust. 2016. Computer in Homes training for the whole family, Computers In Homes, available at: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiTt4Sg8eDMAhUMmJQKHcBiBesQjxwIAw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcomputersinhomes.nz%2Fget-started%2Frefugees%2F&bvm=bv.122129774,d.cGc&psig=AFQjCNGD8MZI4omOZcwCdtWCsWxd69RPVA&ust=1463566766213305

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Refugees & Cyberculture: final progress update

The time has come for my final progress update! I have basically finished my literature review, I have organised interviewees and I am ready to start working on my digital artefact. My digital artefact is – as I’ve stated a few times by now – a video series, so I’ve been on the hunt for photos and footage available to make the series visually compelling.

I was surprised to find Creative Commons actually had a vast amount of images available for reuse within the license requirements (non-commercial reuse), as in the past I’ve found it quite limited. I have a feeling the subject matter may account for the amount of available images to reuse, as I’ve noticed various sources have an interest in sharing the varied experiences of refugees.

“Syrian refugees strike at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 4 September 2015.” Attribution: By Mstyslav Chernov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I also looked into the Youtube Standard Use License, as I intend to sample videos from Youtube to use in my series – which wasn’t so straight forward. Searching through various forums and reading the Youtube Copyrights and Rights page lead me to the Youtube Fair Use requirements. Through these requirements I saw that my series fits within the main four factors of fair use, the main being that my work is for “nonprofit educational purposes”.

And finally, I’ll wrap up this progress post by listing some of the elements of cyberculture I will be investigating:

Part One: cyber activism, public sphere, gatekeepers, social media, digital divide (access and equity)

Part Two: cyber activism, social media, new media technologies (virtual reality)

Part Three: identity theft, cybersecurity, biometrics, online censorship, gatekeepers, new media technologies (drones), surveillance

Part Four: how all of the above can shape and form representations. Part of this will be focusing on ‘othering’, which I’m also conscious of being at risk of doing myself in my previous videos…

My next post will have the first instalment of my digital project: ENGAGE. In the meantime you can check out the prezi I put together for my class presentation, which provides a visual guide to the content I will be covering in the video series by clicking on this link.

Stay tuned!

 

Posted in DIGC335 | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Should mobile phone access be considered a basic need?

With the structure and basic content of my research project very clear in my mind, it’s time to do the lit review! I must admit I was a little overwhelmed at first as to how to keep track of all my research and keep my direction clear, hence the delay on this post…

Nevertheless! I decided to make a Google doc of the aggregated resources I’ve found so far and conduct my literature review. Turns out there is a lot of information on every topic and naturally I want to share it all, so my biggest challenge will be determining what is most vital to include in the video series. If I find I can’t fit everything I want to share in the videos, I may also post corresponding blog posts with more information for those interested.

Lit review in progress…

One of the (many) questions that has arisen from my research is should mobile phone access be considered a basic need? One case study from Za’atari refugee camp on the Jordan/Syria border looked at the camp dynamics and the important role access to networks, SIMs and data plays for refugees. While UNHCR (the main group running the camp along with the Jordanian Government) hand out free SIM cards for all new residents, data and call minutes are not free. Access to networks is not considered a basic need and therefore cannot be covered by UNHCR. Contrary to UNHCR’s policy, this case study and other case studies I’ve researched have all indicated that access to a mobile phone/networks is of vital importance for refugees. Smartphones and network access essentially act as a lifeline to find accommodation, support networks, receive advice/warnings, avoid police and dangerous traffickers, provide a GPS location/contact the coast guard for those who travel by water – the list goes on.

Through my research I’ve also noted that technology use and access amongst refugees can have significant differences, caused by factors such as “socio-economic status, level of education, urban/rural residence and age”. These differences result in what has been termed the digital divide, which involves inequality not only in terms of access, but also through one’s ability to effectively utilise their access. What’s interesting is that training courses have been implemented in various refugee camps and urban resettlements (such as Za’atari, Niamey, Niger and New Zealand) as a way to close this divide. This not only highlights the importance of access but also the recognition by non refugees as to the importance of access and being able to utilise it to receive/transfer money, have educational programs and communicate with support networks.

On the flipside, use of new technologies on refugees raises even more questions. A 2015 study paper looked at the use and development of new technologies in humanitarian settings (including drone surveillance, biometrics used for managing refugees, SMS, GPS and other info/communication technologies) and found there is a history of ‘experimental’ use of these technologies, which is also linked to biopolitics. Biometrics through iris recognition technology as a way to receive money is one such example of these experimental technologies being utilised on refugees: IrisGuard are a leading force in this technology, registering over 1.6 million refugees as of June 2015. In a press release statement, they stated this technology allows refugees to “walk up to an IrisGuard enabled ATM on the street, present one eye only (no card or pin) and effortlessly withdraw their cash allocated financial subsidy immediately.” While there are certainly benefits to using these new technologies, I have to wonder what the risks are around identity theft and human rights. Afterall, online payments/data are attached to your identity and therefore controlled. And as refugees cannot officially be declared as refugees (with UNHCR) until they are registered through biometrics, is there really a choice in all this?  

References:

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE. 2015. Europe-bound Syrians use social media to ease journey, Arab News, available at: http://www.arabnews.com/news/793741

Creti P. 2014. Study on Mobile Cash Transfers for Urban Refugees in Niamey, Niger, Cash Learning, available at: http://www.cashlearning.org/downloads/mobile-cash-transfers-for-urban-refugees-in-niamey-niger-synthesis.pdf

Crump B.R. & Kabbar E.F. 2006. The Factors that Influence Adoption of ICTs by Recent Refugee Immigrants to New Zealand, Informing Science Journal, available at: http://proceedings.informingscience.org/InSITE2006/ISJv9p111-121Kabbar76.pdf

Dekker R & Engbersen G. 2012. How social media transform migrant networks and facilitate migration, International Migration Institute, available at: http://imi.socsci.ox.ac.uk/pdfs/wp/wp-64-12.pdf

Favell A. 2015. Using biometric technology to register refugees, Computer Weekly, available at: http://www.computerweekly.com/photostory/4500254579/Aid-organisations-using-technology-to-help-Syrian-refugees-in-the-Middle-East/2/Using-biometric-technology-to-register-refugees

IrisGuard press release as mentioned in above reference: O’Carroll J. 2015. IrisGuard – EyeBank® Cash Payment – Serving Syrian Refugees Daily, Press Release newswire, available at: https://www.prbuzz.com/technology/321419-irisguard-eyebank-cash-payment-serving-syrian-refugees-daily.html

Jacobsen K. 2015. Experimentation in humanitarian locations: UNHCR and biometric registration of Afghan refugees, SAGE Journals, available at: http://sdi.sagepub.com/content/46/2/144.full

Maitland C & Xu, Ying A. 2015 Social Informatics Analysis of Refugee Mobile Phone Use: A Case Study of Za’atari Syrian Refugee Camp (March 31, 2015). TPRC 43: The 43rd Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy Paper. Available at SSRN: http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=142095081069091013107126087078120113014042095000089091121086087094073004121024003092119034022008009024050126000078104002113031006007037073081013100125095116025098054049080103079083111082122016118005028074090069122031065067117096107087088105100026115&EXT=pdf

McLaughlin D. 2015. Mass migration guided by mobiles and social media, The Irish Times (reported from Budapest), available at: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/mass-migration-guided-by-mobiles-and-social-media-1.2344662

Williams A. 2015. Stop shaming Syrian refugees for using cellphones, The Daily Dot, available at: http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/syria-refugees-cell-phone-use/

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Structuring Refugees & Cyberculture

Ok, so I have developed the idea for my research project, now to assemble it! I have decided to divide the project into 4 parts: four focus points.

Part 1 will be on how refugees engage with cyberculture. This will include how they map & document their experiences. Example cases I will be researching: refugees paving the way for other refugees by sharing photos/GPS locations of their migration path on social media and Google Maps censoring access to viewing refugee housing centres. I will also look at how refugees interact with cyberculture to share their experiences within institutions/controlled environments (i.e. detention centres, camps and island resettlements). Examples: Free the children NAURU and footage released of a hunger strike from within Manus Island detention centre.

Image from Free the children NAURU Facebook page, uploaded 20th March 2016

Image from Free the children NAURU Facebook page, uploaded 20th March 2016

Part 2 will be a focus on those participating in cyberculture to help refugees. This can range from direct involvement with refugees to awareness campaigns. I will be focusing on the strengths and limitations of these involvements. Examples: volunteers providing free wifi and phone charging, ‘Techfugees’ hackathon, Airbnb for refugees, ‘Refugees Welcome‘, the Virtual Reality Documentary ‘Clouds Over Sidra‘, hashtag use on Twitter and community groups, such as SCARF.

Part 3 will be a focus on the monitoring/controlled movement of refugees. Examples: current and future use of “apps, biometrics and smart cards” to track/register refugees, drone surveillance of borders.

syria-gallery-2

Biometric technology used to register refugees in the UNHCR ProGres database. “Until registered, they are not officially a refugee, thus not entitled to protection or eligible for aid” -Favell, 2015, Computer Weekly

Part 4 will be a focus on representations v realities of refugee experiences. Things to consider: conflicting statistics on refugee demographics, problematic definition of what constitutes a refugee and the ramifications that arise from this, language used (e.g. refugees labelled as migrants), the ‘protection paradox‘ and the phenomena of ‘othering’. I will draw on the cyberculture aspects from the previous 3 parts of this project and reflect on the role it plays in the construction of representations and exposure of realities.

In terms of presenting my research, I will be making a four-part Youtube series as videos can be very direct and engaging. The visualisation of refugee experiences is also important to connect audiences with realities over representations. I’m aiming to make the videos for each part between 3-5 minutes.

*This post has been altered from 5 focus points to 4, following consultation with Chris.

References:

[author unknown]. 2015. “Google Maps” censorship. How to defeat refugee housing map deletion, Human-stupidity.com, available at: http://human-stupidity.com/equality4/diversity4/google-maps-censorship-how-to-defeat-refugee-housing-map-deletion

Berg C. 2011. Why cling on to an outdated refugee convention? ABC’s The Drum, available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-10-19/berg-why-are-we-clinging-to-an-outdated-refugee-convention/3577538

Byrne R. 2015. The Protection Paradox: Why Hasn’t the Arrival of New Media Transformed Refugee Status Determination?, International Journal Of Refugee Law, 27, 4, pp. 625-648, Political Science Complete, EBSCOhost, available at: http://ijrl.oxfordjournals.org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/content/27/4/625.full.pdf.

Chang 0. 2015. Australia is hosting its first ‘Techfugees’ hackathon in response to the growing refugee crisis, Business Insider Australia, http://www.businessinsider.com.au/australia-is-hosting-its-first-techfugees-hackathon-in-response-to-the-growing-refugee-crisis-2015-11

Doherty B & McConnell F. 2015. Rare footage from inside Manus Island detention centre reveals desperation – video, The Guardian, available at: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/video/2015/jan/14/manus-island-hunger-strike-rare-secret-recording-video

Graham-Harrison E & Taylor D. 2016. EU asks tech firms to pitch refugee-tracking systems, The Guardian, available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/18/eu-asks-tech-firms-to-pitch-refugee-tracking-systems

Marin L, & Krajčíková K. 2016. Deploying Drones in Policing Southern European Borders: Constraints and Challenges for Data Protection and Human Rights, Drones & Unmanned Aerial Systems, available at: http://doc.utwente.nl/94391/1/11012015_LM.KK.Drones..pdf

McLaughlin D. 2015. Mass migration guided by mobiles and social media, The Irish Times (reported from Budapest), available at: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/mass-migration-guided-by-mobiles-and-social-media-1.2344662

Strindberg A. 2015. Five reasons why the majority of refugees reaching Europe are men, Global Citizen, available at: https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/five-explanations-to-why-the-majority-of-refugees/

Zappone C. 2015. Migrant or Refugee Crisis: what’s in a hashtag?, Sydney Morning Herald, available at: http://www.smh.com.au/world/migrant-crisis/what-your-migrant-crisis-hashtag-says-about-you-20150913-gjlkm2.html

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