Sociality Revisited? The Use of the Internet and Mobile Phones in Urban Cameroon
550 Pages
English
Gain access to the library to view online
Learn more

Sociality Revisited? The Use of the Internet and Mobile Phones in Urban Cameroon

-

Gain access to the library to view online
Learn more
550 Pages
English

Description

This book draws on the perspectives of non-migrants and urban youth in Bamenda, in the Northwest region of Cameroon, as well as on the views of Cameroonian migrants in Switzerland, to explore the meaning and role of New Media in the negotiation of sociality in transnational migration. New Media facilitated connectedness serve as a privileged lens through which Cameroonians, home and away, scrutinise and mediate sociality. In this rich ethnography, Bettina Frei describes how the internet and mobile phones are adopted by migrants and their non-migrant counterparts in order to maintain transnational relationships, and how the specific medialities of these communication technologies in turn impact on transnational sociality. Contrary to popular presumptions that New Media are experienced as mainly connecting and enabling, this study reveals that in a transnational context in particular, New Media serve to mediate tensions in transnational social ties. The expectations of being connected go hand in hand with an awareness of social and geographical distance and separation.

Subjects

Informations

Published by
Published 08 April 2013
Reads 0
EAN13 9789956790760
Language English
Document size 11 MB

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0086€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.

Exrait

sociality in co-presence. Mediated sociality is limited and in deficit. Not only does it
transnational relationships, and how the specific medialities of these communication
SOCIALITY REVISITED? T U   I  M P  U C
Beina Anja Frei
Sociality Revisited? The Use of the Internet and Mobile Phones in Urban Cameroon Bettina Anja FreiL a ng a a R esea rch & P u blishing CIG Mankon, Bamenda
Publisher: LangaaRPCIG Langaa Research & Publishing Common Initiative Group P.O. Box 902 Mankon Bamenda North West Region Cameroon Langaagrp@gmail.comwww.langaa-rpcig.net Distributed in and outside N. America by African Books Collective orders@africanbookscollective.com www.africanbookcollective.com ISBN: 9956-728-41-1 ©Bettina Anja Frei 2013
DISCLAIMER All views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Langaa RPCIG.
Table of Contents Acknowledgement……………………………………………… vii Abstract………………………………………………………… ix List of acronyms………………………………………………... xi List of figures…………………………………………………… xiii 1. Introduction, ethnographic background and theoretical framework……………………………………………………...1 General introduction…………………………………………... 1 The setting – The site of fieldwork, and youth as a social catego-ry……………………………………………………………… 6 A local history of migration…………………………………… 10 The situation of New Media Technology in Bamenda – history and background……………………………………………………. 18 Framing the research topic: liveness as a lens…………………. 35 Theoretical framework – mobility, transnationalism, New Media, and social transformation………………………………………….. 44 Outlook……………………………………………………….. 62 2. Anxiety of mobility, New Media use, and imaginations of a “good life”……………………………………………………...65 New Media use and mobility – intentional practices and motivations for migration…………………………………………………... 67 The (re-)production of imaginaries and narratives in the local set-ting……………………………………………………………. 81 Imagination of spaces and places……………………………… 91 Imagination as social practice – imageries and narratives of migration and “white man’s kontri”……………………………………… 98 Conclusion – Transnational mobility, liveness as a potential, and the power of imagination………………………………………….. 114
iii
3. New Media, their materiality, and their contribution to social spaces: between potentials and local conditions…………… 117 The materialization of cyber cafés and computer technology in the setting…………………………………………………………. 118 New Media’s influences in the public sphere - materiality, discourses and critique……………………………………………………. 142 Different loci of sociality – from face-to-face to mediated social in-teraction………………………………………………………. 152 Youth and embodied imaginaries –performances and feelings of be-ing (dis)-connected……………………………………………..160 Conclusion – New Media and social spaces: liveness and a “sense of place”…………………………………………………………. 171 4. Practices of social networking – face-to-face and mediated social ties and support……………………………………….. 175 Social units and networks based on co-presence – families, friends, and lovers……………………………………………………... 176 Social networks and practices of networking through New Media of communication……………………………………………….. 187 Local and translocal social networking and accessing social capi-tal……………………………………………………………... 204 Being part of social networks of support……………………….215 Conclusion - Creating liveness by adding face-to-face and mediated social networks and opportunities for support………………… 227 5. Physically distant but emotionally close – transforming quali-ties of social ties……………………………………………….231 Reflections on “closeness”, “trust”, and “intimacy” as qualities in so-cial interaction………………………………………………… 232 New Media and mediated communication……………………. 239 Negotiating a sense of closeness: observing conduct in mediated so-cial interaction………………………………………………… 264 Mediated closeness: “good communication” and communication contents………………………………………………………. 277 Conclusion: Negotiating, creating or avoiding liveness in mediated social interaction………………………………………………. 286
iv
6. Practices of connecting and disconnecting – negotiations of social relations between migrants and non-migrants……… 289 Migrants, non-migrants, and generations – conflicting views and col-liding interests………………………………………………….290 The migrants – between the country of residence and dreams of re-turn…………………………………………………………….295 Imagination and solidarity - migrants between pressure and demon-strating success………………………………………………... 305 Negotiating expectations – through “managing” communication Media…………………………………………………………. 312 Keeping a foothold in one’s place of origin – negotiating “virtual presence” at home…………………………………………….. 325 Negotiating social and moral positions and status among migrants and non migrants……………………………………………… 336 Conclusion: Between accord and disappointment – liveness through New Media as a means to effect claims and rights in social relations between migrants and non-migrants…………………………... 344 7. Self-reflection and fieldwork methods……………………. 347 Using New Media in my research – as a working tool and research topic…………………………………………………………... 347 Having multiple identities in the setting………………………. 351 Transnational research collaboration………………………….. 363 Different perspectives – different findings……………………. 369 Fieldwork methods……………………………………………. 375 Opportunities and challenges in fieldwork……………………. 390 Conclusion: Interconnections of my personal experience with the re-search topic…………………………………………………….393
v
8. Liveness, mobility, and New Media use – between dislocation and feelings of closeness………………………………………395 Mobilities and the dimensions of agency……………………… 396 Liveness, transforming sociality, and the dimensions of agen-cy………………………………………………………………417 Dealing with space and time, distance and closeness - reflections on “globalization processes” and interrelations of agency and struc-ture……………………………………………………………. 438 How can this research and thesis contribute to a better understanding of the field?............................................................................................ 450 Concluding résumé……………………………………………. 454 References ………………………………………………………457 Internet sources………………………………………………… 499 Appendix………………………………………………………...503
vi
Acknowledgements A range of people have contributed in different ways to the writing of this book. I would like to thank following people: My advisors Prof. Dr. Till Förster, and Prof. Dr. Judith Schlehe. My family for their pa-tience and support: my spouse Tarek Moussalli, my mother Marianne Frei, my sister Maja Frei, my friends Bettina Vogt, Tabith Ruepp, Cigdem Scarpatetti-Böke, Rebecca Szedivy, Maria Ingletti, Daniela Häberli, Tobias Jäggli, Guido Happle, and others, who shared in each step concerning my research and the writing of this book, my friends from Rigpa and Calcutta Project Basel for their patience regarding my absences. Thanks to Gareth Jones for proof-reading the book, my col-leagues in the VW Foundation research group “Passages of Culture” for fruitful collaboration, above all my “tandem-partner” Primus Tazanu. Furthermore Prof. Adamu Abdalla, Prof. Bole Butake, Prof. Elizabeth Gunner, Jennifer Musangi, Jendele Hungbo, Nura Ibrahim, Mainasara Kurfi, Kenneth Tume, Pani Fomiyen and Paul Tafor. Thanks to colleagues and staff at the Institute for Social Anthropology, Fiona Siegenthaler, Kathrin Heitz, Michelle Engeler, Andrea Kauf-mann, Rita Kesselring, Barbara Heeb, Jana Gerold, Piet Van Euwijk, Brigitte Obrist, Lucy Koechlin, Kerstin Bauer, Peter Lindenmann, Sab-ine Schultz, and others. Special thanks to Sandra Burri-Furler for coor-dinating the “Passages of Culture” Research Project. Special thanks to Eric Chefor for supporting me in my fieldwork. Thanks to other peo-ple who have inspired and encouraged me in fruitful discussions, Di-vine Fuh, René Egloff, Ephrem Temesa, Veit Arlt, Balz Andrea Alter, or regarding their works, Francis Nyamnjoh, Mirjam De Bruijin, H.-P. Hahn, Michaela Pelican, and other authors whose work I have cited. Special thanks go to so many people in Cameroon and beyond, who have contributed to my research. Celestine Ebie, David Sama, Doreen Bieri-Ngafor, Frank Mbock, Elvis Awa, Jacob Ache, Clotaire Yanze, Vivian Nchang and family, Ezichiel Atonehe and family, Mi-randa Nche, Alex Che, Delphine Maaya and family, Ivo Ngade, Eunice Tita, Bertrand Taboh, Cletus Tamoh, Cletus Anye, Isidore Mbianda and family, Stanley Lema, Pascal Chefor and family, Patience Sirri and family, Valerie Awubung, Ernest Che, Clement Chia, Lambert Monji, vii
Divine and Louisa Kintashe, Aboubakar Jaja and family, Ernest Nkwenti, Richard Tambe, René Yang, Emile Ngah, Derick, Elvis Yengi, Killy Roland, Uginia Urwick, Elvis Khan, Simon Muluh Ngwi, Charles Mobit, Louis Verdzekov, Anabel Bih, Peter Takwi, Anita Ngum, Nicoline Suh and family, David Banye, Clovis Nforsi, Patience Acho, Mathew Suh, Raymond Tita, James Tambang, Norbert, Yannick Ndatoua et famille, Precillia Gahke and family, Anne-Cécile Nonga et famille, Clauvis Ndumbi, Serge Kika, Chris Ndifor, John Neba, Briant Ngu, Pride Akuma, Michel Sugnin, Schubert Forhnjah, Elaine Tamnjong, Misba and family, my landlord Mr. Kimbeng and family, and all I might have forgotten… Thanks to the VW Foundation in Hannover, Germany, for sponsoring this research.
viii
Abstract In my thesis I have examined the meaning of New Media for transna-tional migration, and how the use of New Media is interrelated with negotiations of sociality. Bringing these two views together, I have examined how the mediality of New Media effects on transnational sociality. I have thereby addressed the topic from the perspective of non-migrants, of urban youth in Bamenda, in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. As a counter perspective, I have integrated the views of Cameroonian migrants in Switzerland. New Media of communication and information offer a broad range for users in order to pursue an ideal of connectedness, to social others and life chances, which are constitutive regarding their adopting of New Media technologies. Social liveness emphasizes the possibility of a connected presence, or a quality of interaction in New Media of communication. Liveness, therefore, has different dimensions, as a potential, as a sensory experi-ence, and as work or effort invested in mediated social ties. Likewise, liveness can be reversed or avoided, and liveness is a matter of degree and intentionality of New Media users. Negotiations of liveness in me-diated transnational social ties have a decisive effect on notions of so-ciality and solidarity. Transnational relationships are framed by conditions, the most im-portant examples of which are physical dislocation and differing life-worlds. As well they are superimposed by strong imaginaries of great potentials abroad. Notions of an ideal sociality are re-evaluated – and super elevated - vis-à-vis the perception of slippages, which are likely to be experienced in mediated social interaction. These slippages in mediated communication derive from limited social and emotional cues, as well as an often only partial understanding of migrant’s life conditions abroad. From the perspectives of the migrants, exaggerated expectations and claims towards them lead to their adopting of strate-gies of New Media use, which seem to oppose those of non-migrants. Uses of New Media are then strongly related to dealing with these ten-sions in transnational social ties between migrants and non-migrants. Such negotiations are likely to come to the fore in practices of New Media use, in which notions of sociality are revised according to the ix