Floating Narratives: Digital Storytelling and Transnational Families

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Catalina ARANGO, Ottawa University, Canada
Among South American countries, Colombia has the highest number of emigrants, with some two millions Colombians living abroad (World Bank 2011). Many of these immigrants may experience what Vertovec (1997) labels as Diaspora Consciousness: a new sense of identity in which memories and new maps of attachment are created and recreated. Within this context, family storytelling constitutes a critical intersection at which families create and recreate themselves. Today, much of this process is digitally mediated via ICTs that enable an array of nearly instantaneous communicative exchanges. It seems plausible, therefore, that traditional family narratives and stories exchanged via these mediums are likely being altered through the multimodal, interactive, hypertextual and co-production affordances ICTs provide. With this in mind, the central question guiding the study I would like to present is: How do ICTs inform and constrain storytelling among transnational families?

In order to address this question, the study looks at the technologically mediated interactions and digital storytelling of six Colombian families who immigrated to Canada from Colombia in order to investigate how they co-construct their social realities. The findings to be presented will be drawn from in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted in August and September 2015 with 12 adult Colombians residing in Montreal, and six of their respective family members who remain in Colombia.

A preliminary analysis of the interview data suggests that the nature of family communication has indeed changed in the eyes of the interviewees. The nature and flow of the family storytelling is revealed differently thanks to new platforms that allow for permanent interaction. In presenting my findings, I will be placing emphasis on the new dynamics of communication and storytelling emerging from their digital interactions. The description and interpretation of these practices is crucial for identifying implications of ICTs in building new sociabilities in the global world.