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Saturday, October 13 • 9:00am - 10:30am
Materialities of Networks in Formation

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Negin Dahya, Sarah Dryden-Peterson, Dacia Douhaibi, Olivier Arvisais
This paper addresses how mobile phones and social networks are being used to support gender equity in education among refugee teachers in Kenyan refugee camps. Our study focuses on how refugee teachers are using instant messaging to transform educational practices in the highly restrictive, under-resourced, and deeply patriarchal conditions of Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya. This work developed from previous studies identifying the crucial role mobile phones and social networks have in the educational landscape of refugees in this region.

In our current study, we ask pertinent questions with a focus on refugee teachers in-practice professional development opportunities, and how they impact gender equity in education more broadly. In our approach, we consider power dynamics in the material world that also influence participation and access to online worlds for female refugee teachers. Additionally, we interrogate how the built environment and gendered architecture of place applies, ranging from how teachers and students connect across geographies within and outside of refugee camps, to dis/embodied practices of teacher professional development across peer networks.

In 2016, our research team collected 203 surveys with refugee teachers in Kakuma and Dadaab, conducted five focus group discussions with refugee teachers and community educators in Kakuma, and completed 14 semi-structured interviews with instructors, Faculty, and administrators directing professional development programs for refugee teachers from Kenya and Canada. The focus of our discussion will be on the educational ecosystem and unique opportunities to support girls’ education.

Minna Soltani Jensen, Christina Neumayer, Luca Rossi
This presentation explores the motivations of users for sharing and creating Internet memes in a crises situation. For this purpose, we investigate the kitten memes in #brusselslockdown on Twitter, following the security lockdown of Brussels in November 2015 due to information about potential terrorist attacks. Based on a social network analysis, we identified three user groups who shared or produced memes in #brusselslockdown on Twitter: Content producers, content sharers, and conversationalists. The #brusselslockdown Twitter network contains 31,661 nodes and 37,758 edges. Starting from the Twitter network we identified three ranking parameters reflecting different types of participation: the quantity of content produced (content producer); the quantity of retweets received (content sharer); the clustering coefficient of the node (conversationalist). Based on results of interviews with users from these three groups, we argue that the motivations for sharing and creating memes range from personal involvement in the crises situation and acts of resistance to creative self-realization. The actions and practices in #Brusselslockdown emerging from these motivations varied - from producing noise in form of retweeting (also supported by the strategic use of bots) to push the terrorists out of Twitter and (symbolically) the city of Brussels; to sharing funny kitten images as a way of dealing with the crises situation; and producing memes as an expression of creative potential. Combined, these practices, activities and motivations resulted into a phenomenon that appropriated an expression of popular internet culture to resist, to show solidarity but also to deal with the crises situation in humorous and playful way.

Laura Strait, Patrick Jones
In October, 2011, hundreds of thousands of people in 951 cities in 82 countries around the world participated in the Occupy movement. Since that time, Occupy has persisted as a network of actors opposing social and economic inequality, fascism, and global capitalism. Occupy was part of Revolution 2.0 and was organized, mobilized, and framed on social media and other digital platforms where its slogans became memes viewed around the globe. Seven years after the initial protests, the resilience of Occupy counters assumptions that political communities born on social media platforms cannot endure once protests have died down. How then does Occupy maintain its brand identity and political resonance today?

In this paper, we study the multiplicity of voices who continue to invoke Occupy rhetoric through a close reading of two websites designed to glue this disparate community together, Occupy.com and its affiliated site Occupy Commons. Occupy.com acts as Occupy’s chief media outlet, while Occupy Commons serves as a community forum where activists can create groups, coordinate events, and participate in discussion. In this paper, we ask two primary research questions: 1) How do these website help constitute a community? And 2) How does this community remember Occupy? Using a methodology developed to analyze both the rhetorical content and functionality of websites, we read each website as an archived virtual community. This paper has important implications for how we think about political community in an era where digital tactics are a primary feature of activist politics.

Katerina Diamantaki, Charitos Dimitrios, Rizopoulos Haris, Penny Papageorgopoulou
The proposed study aims to contribute to the growing research field of online social virtual worlds through an analysis of a variety of hosted multi-user public virtual experiences taking place in Sansar, a new avatar-based virtual world platform made by Second Life creator Linden Lab, and launched in “creator beta” to the general public on July 31, 2017. Capitalizing on the new wave of enthusiasm for virtual reality, Sansar is currently been marketed as a “next-generation virtual world” (Johnson, 2017), a kind of “Wordpress for Social VR” promising to “democratize VR development” by allowing users to create their own immersive experiences inside their own virtual reality scenes (Summers, 2016). In line with socio-technological and constructivist approaches, the focus of analysis has been on the social processes by which a technological space of simulated representations is constructed, while at the same time co-examining the technical and design elements of the virtual environments that allow content production, user activity and social interaction to materialize in the immersive virtual space. The findings of the study highlight how subjectivities, practices, activities, relations, objects and technologies combine and synergize in the process of constructing a novel environment of technologically-mediated sociality, defined by the socialization of virtual technologies.

Saturday October 13, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am EDT
Sheraton - Salon 7