Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Anthropology and University Honors
Refugees -- United States -- Biography, Refugees -- United States -- Personal narratives, Digital media -- Social aspects, Identity (Psychology)
This thesis examines digital media as platforms for current and former refugees to reaffirm and create themselves and to learn to be American. To think of refugees as “uprooted” with “roots that threaten to wither” (Malkki 1992, 32) is misguided. This thesis utilizes Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of the rhizome (1987) to rethink current and former refugee experiences post-resettlement in the US. With the rising ubiquity of digital media and digital technologies, increasing numbers of refugees resettle with smartphones and other technologies. These technologies provide current and former refugees opportunities to maintain hybridized self-conceptions and to feel they are both “here” and “there.”
Based on 22 interviews with current and former refugees, 1 interview with an RCO employee, and participant observation, this thesis asks: How do refugees use Facebook and the RCO to learn about becoming American citizens? What is the RCO presenting? How do resettled refugees use social media to create and maintain their identity through interactions with friends and family, both locally and abroad? This investigation finds that although Facebook allows people to reaffirm themselves and their hybridity, the RCO focuses on “transplanting” one’s roots from “there” to “here.” As a result, this study contributes to a growing body of digital ethnographic literature, indicating that investigating what happens in the “virtual” sheds light onto refugee resettlement experiences in general.
Nett, Julia, "From Refugee to Citizen: Rhizomes and Roots in the Digital Age" (2019). University Honors Theses. Paper 667.