[URBANTH-L]CFP: Transnational Migration and Technology use

Anastasia Panagakos panagakos at ucdavis.edu
Thu Dec 9 16:06:40 EST 2004

Call for Papers:
Return to Cyberia: Technology and the Social Worlds of Transnational 
Migrants (Anastasia Panagakos and Heather Horst, editors)

We are seeking authors for a special issue of Global Networks on the use 
of information and communication technologies among transnational 
migrants. Global Networks (http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/glob)is a 
peer reviewed journal that publishes four times a year and qualifies for 
the ISI Social Science Citation Index.  Please send 250 word abstract and 
contact information to Anastasia Panagakos at panagakos at ucdavis.edu by 
January 21, 2005. Apologies for any cross listings. 

This volume constitutes a "return" to Cyberia, the concept coined by 
Arturo Escobar a decade ago to describe, in part, how various
communities adopt or reject new technologies based upon cultural, 
political, and economic factors. Since then social scientists have sought 
to understand how changes to social life is brought about by cyberculture -
the computer, information, and biological technologies considered to be 
hallmarks of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.   Information and 
communication technologies (ICTs), such as the Internet and cellular 
phones, were primarily made available to individuals living in western,
industrialized countries, a fact which led many scholars to suggest that 
ICTs advanced a new axis of inequality based on race, class, gender, and 
even geography.

In the last five years, however, there are suggestions that the "digital
divide" has started to shrink as computers and digital technologies
become cheaper and more ubiquitous (Miller and Slater 2000). As David Hess
notes, the effect of "cosmopolitan technologies" on Third World groups in 
particular are poorly understood, particularly regarding issues of 
cultural homogenization, hybridization, and the creation of new 
differences.  For transnational populations in both the first and third 
worlds, ICTs have become a way to sustain networks, build ethnic and 
political solidarity, establish hierarchies (class-based and otherwise),
and create outlets for personal expression while living between and
within the social worlds of home and host countries, diasporas, dominant 
societies and ethnic enclaves.  

"Return to Cyberia" seeks to evaluate the contemporary moment of social 
science of new cultural and social forms influenced by rapidly evolving 
technologies in this first critical decade through a variety of 
ethnographic case studies and by addressing the following issues: What
are the challenges of conducting research on-line, in virtual places as 
well as through more traditional modes of inquiry?  How has virtual 
research created, resolved, or otherwise altered traditional research 
methodologies and to what end? Is a virtual social scientist accountable 
to the community of study or does virtual research herald a return of the 
colonialist voyeur?  Are ICTs controlled by certain segments of 
transnational populations, thereby exacerbating internal hierarchies based 
on class and education, or have they become tools for the common person as 
well?  As Mark Graham and Shahram Khosravi conclude in their study of 
Iranian diasporic cyberspace, cultural capital accrued virtually does not 
translate into real life. What then are the costs and benefits of 
participating in virtual communities spread over vast distances?  How do 
new ICTs transform the relationships between those who migrate and those 
who stay?  What forms of ICTs become incorporated into transnational 
networks and why? Finally, what are the consequences for communities that 
do not or cannot embrace ICTs to same degree as other communities? Will 
global technological interconnectedness become a 21st standard for gauging 
inequality or will it eventually promote new equalities?

Anastasia Panagakos
Postdoctoral Fellow
Dept. of Human and Community Development
University of California, Davis
panagakos at ucdavis.edu

Heather Horst
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Anthropology
University College London
h.horst at ucl.ac.uk

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