DGV05: digitised everyday life?

The significance of computer-mediated communication for the development of transnational communities
by Heike Greschke

More and more the Internet is used by transnational populations. For instance in order to maintain relationships to affiliates, to get up-to-date information on the region of origin, or to to exert political influence as a diaspora. Nevertheless we know comparatively few about the social consequences of this growing integration of electronic media of communication into the everyday life of transnational populations.

This presentation is based on data from a still running ethnographical study on an Internet discussion-forum. Said forum is used by people stemming from Paraguay, who now are living in diverse regions of the globe. The communication inside this socioelectronic nexus constitutes itself inside a field of tension between a virtually shared space and local embeddedness in divergent, non-shared Lebenswelten. Hence—in terms of “multisited ethnography”—the data mapping the communicative action on the virtual level is analytically tied to the data on some of the local levels in Paraguay, Argentina, and California, which was gained by participant observation.

The strong focus on everyday life inside the group of people—who at first are unknown to each other—obviously leads to a kind of glocalisation of the Lebenswelten. On the one hand the virtual relationships are translated to local contexts where possible. The forum is e.g. used for networking with people stemming from Paraguay living at the same geographical location or nearby. But in a second step the local relationships are connected to the virtual level in order to be able to share local events with the global community. Thus an Internet-based global community has been created out of an anonymous socioelectronic network. The community rests on nationality, but has detached the latter from territorial locatedness.

Abstract of a presentation to be held at the workshop ‘cyberanthropology’ during the Conference of the German Anthropological Association (GAA aka DGV) – Halle / Saale, 4th – 7th October 2005.
translation of the official German abstract by zeph—put the blame on me