Interstitial spaces of belonging: Refugee and migrant inclusion, and digitally networked communication
AuthorBoyle, Estelle Louisa
AffiliationSchool of Culture and Communication
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2024-01-12.
© 2021 Estelle Louisa Boyle
This project considers how digitally networked communication technologies are opening up interstitial spaces of belonging for people of refugee and migrant backgrounds after resettlement. The project draws on 35 interviews with 26 people from refugee and migrant backgrounds living in Melbourne, supplemented by photographs generated through a photo elicitation task. I contextualise the findings arising from this data by first considering the history of migrant inclusion in Australia, and the historical practice of migrant communication through letters. I argue that while digital platforms and global connections play an important role in supporting their social inclusion and sense of belonging, interaction in the physical, local world remains crucial nonetheless. I build this argument by drawing attention to the interstitiality of the three principal dyadic relationships underpinning the thesis: inclusion–exclusion, digital–physical, and local–global. I argue that digitally networked communication technologies are highly valued tools for connection which have greatest value in their capacity to include those who may otherwise be on the outer, to produce physical encounters through digital networks, and to localise the global regardless of physical location. But it must be acknowledged that this is only half the picture. By often prioritising the global and the digital, networked communications also have the potential to make people effectively absent from the local and the physical, and thereby lead to exclusion rather than inclusion. The notion of interstitial spaces of belonging opens up these opposing accounts to the reality of their interconnection, and in doing so allows a more authentic representation of the experiences of those people at the heart of this research. The significance of this research lies in foregrounding the nuances of situated lives and personal stories, and in advocating for a relational understanding of concepts such as social inclusion, social exclusion, and belonging; digital and physical sociality; and a local and global sense of place.
Keywordscommunication technology; refugees; migrants; social inclusion; social exclusion; belonging; digitally networked communication; digital media; migrant communication; Australian migration; migrant letters
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