What can we learn from connected migrants?
In being able to be in two places at once as it were, and in cultivating a double identity, today’s migrant is blurring the lines of – if not blowing apart – the traditional integration patterns within the host society. And if the web helps us maintain links, so, too, does it assist in their creation and reinforcement – as evidenced by the plethora of ethnic dating websites that sprang up in the mid-noughties, to name but one example.
Beyond the intra-personal sphere of marriage, this sense of community is also expressed through the political involvement of the migrant communities in their countries of origin. The Tunisian case is a prime example: exchanges between immigrant bloggers and Tunisian Internet users have allowed the latter to benefit from easier access to uncensored information. The two communities united at the time of the Jasmine Revolution: clearly, then, a migrant community can participate actively in the political development of its home country.
This double loyalty can sometimes give rise to fear: might migrants not simply retreat into their digital identities? Researcher Dana Dimenescu has examined electronic forums in which users share expatriation experiences and pointers and shown that the dynamic of solidarity tends to be more evident online.
Although such exchanges have always existed and multiple identities are certainly nothing new, the rapid growth of ICT has redefined the global position of connected migrants. For around twenty years, researches have been labelling this phenomenon as “transnationalism”. This drives us all to ask ourselves several questions: in this time when we can vote kilometres aware from our homes, in this age of political revolts via blog, what is the Nation State? What is citizenship? What the “novo-migrant” means to us is that it possible to feel that we are part of a nation and to be a part of it, both socially and politically, without living within its territory. Immersed in the era of ITC, transnational communities are compelling citizens (migrant and non-migrant alike), but also States to rethink the concept of migration.
> Does the migrant web promote the development of a political awareness?
On the Internet, networks can be used in a highly effective manner, in particular to connect residents of a country in crisis with its diaspora, located in more democratic lands. Do the connected communities equally influence politics in their countries of origin?
> The connected migrant: agent of globalisation
In two places at once, the “novo-migrant” is constantly forging new links and forming new networks. His very way of being in the world is what turns it upside down. This has given rise to the emerging concept of transnationalism, which allows us to rethink the existing migrant integration patterns in host countries.
> Solidarity or digital retreat? Or just a way of keeping ties strong despite the distance?
Sometimes, double or triple identities expressed loud and clear on the Internet via numerous diaspora networks have an unsettling effect on the host country. Far from constituting a retreat of the migrant to his roots, however, this behaviour is evidence of a dynamic of community spirit.
> Migrant online dating: searching for the perfect match.
Dating sites focus on the ethnicity of a community to attract a “niche market”. However, the way in which these details are presented differs largely from one website to another and represents a veritable mine of information on the issues of identity and discrimination.
Interviews vidéoInterviews réalisés par Gentiane Weil à l'occasion des journées d'étude TIC - migrations, qui se sont déroulées à la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme à Paris, les 19 et 20 septembre 2013, sous la direction de Dana Diminescu, de Telecom Paris Tech, avec la participation d'Orange.
Le migrant connecté - Ines Ebilitigué par digitalsocietyforum
Inès Ebilitigué décrit les causes de l'attractivité des commerces ethniques, où les migrants se rendent pour utiliser les technologies de communication.
Brice A. Mankou
Le migrant connecté - Brice A. Mankou par digitalsocietyforum
Brice Mankou commente pour le DSF les pratiques numériques des jeunes femmes camerounaises dans leur process de cybermigration maritale.