Sep 15, 2021
AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research
This paper explores how transnational identities are negotiated through digital and social media use, and how the narratives online contribute to Rohingya transnational identity. Recent studies have made significant strides in understanding refugees’ media practices during migration, transnational family ties, settlement in a host society. However, little attention has been paid to more nuanced understanding every day of risks and opportunities of digital media practice in the context of conflict and forced migration. Drawing on a qualitative approach of semi-structured and social media scroll back interviews methods, I investigate the use of technologies in their everyday experiences of prolonged displacement in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, Bangladesh and among resettled refugees in Brisbane, Australia, both distinct but interconnected within a power structure. The findings expose the ‘double-edged’ nature of communication technologies. While most participants think technologies have been a lifeline for their survival, participants from the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp show that security and surveillance are key concerns for members of the Rohingya diaspora. In this paper, I argue that although digital and social media offer a niche of a repertoire of resistance and the rise of a new form of community in a context of statelessness, the use of such technologies can be juxtaposed with the consequence of digital surveillance and victimisation in everyday life in a refugee camp. By focusing on both urban and refugee camp settings, this paper offers critical insights into power inequalities and transnational diaspora activism, authoritarian politics, specifically its mediation by digital technologies.