Refugees’ (Digital) Citizenship from Below. On Translation, Care, and Digital Infrastructure in the Context of Forced Migration
How do refugees use digital infrastructure to care across borders and within countries? How do such entanglements shape refugees’ political subjectivities? And how do these practices intersect with efforts to enact citizenship from below, with the potential to transform sociocultural realities? Palmberger’s ethnographic research in Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina tackles these core research questions and shows how digital infrastructure enables refugees to establish multiple co-presences with family and friends that span different geographical locales and coexist at varying physical and virtual proximities. It explores how, through digitally mediated transnational care and placemaking practices, refugees navigate border regimes and build belonging and citizenry. Palmberger’s research draws on theories of everyday acts of citizenship and postcolonial theories of representation; she critically engages with the ideas of migration as translation and representation through translation.
Monika Palmberger holds a PhD from the University of Oxford (2011), for which she conducted long-term fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Presently she is a senior research fellow and lecturer at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna and an associate research fellow at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leuven. Her research focuses on (forced) migration, aging and care, memory and generation as well as on digital ethnography. Palmberger is co-founder of the Digital Ethnography Initiative and co-speaker of the “Working Group Migration and Memory” of the Memory Studies Association. She is author of the book How Generations Remember: Conflicting Histories and Shared Memories in Post-War Bosnia and Herzegovina(2016) and co-editor of the books Care across Distance: Ethnographic Explorations of Aging and Migration (2018) and Memories on the Move: Experiencing Mobility, Rethinking the Past (2016).
with Barbara Götsch, »The Nexus of Anthropology and Narrative: Ethnographic Encounters with Storytelling Practices«, in: Narrative Culture, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2022: pp. 1–22; »Relational Ambivalence: Exploring the Social and Discursive Dimensions of Ambivalence – The Case of Aging Turkish Labor Migrants«, in: International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Vol. 70, No. 1–2, 2019: pp. 74–90; with Azra Hromadžić (eds.), Care across Distance: Ethnographic Explorations of Aging and Migration, New York 2018; How Generations Remember: Conflicting Histories and Shared Memories in Post-War Bosnia and Herzegovina, London 2016; with Jelena Tošić (eds.), Memories on the Move: Experiencing Mobility, Rethinking the Past, London 2016.
Sending a good-morning greeting with a bouquet of flowers; getting tattoos together; sharing recipes: digital media are crucial for such everyday activities that keep families and friends together when they are separated by forced migration. Validating this, a Syrian woman told me: »I would be nothing without my smartphone«.