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Log In Sign Up. Marjorie Murray. Working in the tradition of social anthropology, the volume is the result of a research project studying social relations by means of long-term ethnographic engagement.
Migration and New Media : Transnational Families and Polymedia
The broader aim of the volume is to shed light on the unprecedented phenomena of migrant transnationalism and new media communications together with a reflection and theorization upon the very nature of parent-child relationships. But rather than a romanticized account of migration that highlights the inescapable oppressions and unfairness confronted by these families, throughout the volume Madianou and Miller dignify their informants by spelling out the ambivalences and contradictions of their choices.
For example, when accounting for the reasons for migration, Madianou and Miller identify normative goals such as paying for children's education, building a house for their families, escaping violence, relationship breakdown, or the search for self-improvement.
In Madianou and Miller's case studies this plurality is played out across distances. This study of relationships and the media placed at same level in which neither is the context of the other Miller and Slater constitute the heart of the volume, and the pivot for their theoretical elaborations. The authors first concentrate on the affordances and limitations of different old and new media as intrinsic to the achievements and failures of these relationships.
Transnational Families and Polymedia, 1st Edition
They then analyse the present times of diversified affordable media - including email, webcam, texting, social networking or phone calls, in which each medium may only be defined relationally; each medium stands as an alternative to other media that could be used for that message. Hence, every selection is a communicative and a moral act to be judged along cultural forms of sociality, temporality, power and emotion.
This is the new polymedia environment in which Filipino mothers and their children redefine relationships in novel ways. By focusing on mediation the authors develop a theoretical discussion in which they conclude that mediation, considered dialectically, takes place in various directions. In the first place, rather than thinking of relationships as just mediated by media, relationships should be considered as intrinsically mediated in nature. Following cultural, normative patterns, the child builds an idea of the mother and vice versa — a projection, who he or she then measures against the actual person the mothers in the UK , negotiating and working upon the attainment of a match or closeness between them.
This triangle is particularly evident in the case of long-distance relationships, in which the normative ideal may emerge much more distanced from the actual person.
But there is nothing like reportage. Secondly, they argue that media communications are mediated by relationships, as observed in the selection of different media for different aims in the context of polymedia. Finally, the mutual mediation between relationships and the media underlies the process of migration that they account for in the volume. This volume is successful in several fronts. Its didactic style including summaries at the end of each chapter and the balanced catenation of case studies complement its provocative content.
Keeping the family together through new media
I found Madianou and Miller's accounts of the negotiations and administration of mediated closeness and distance, presence and absence by mothers and children particularly interesting. The authors describe how these are redefined along changing normative criteria, and projections in different times of the relationship. The result is a groundbreaking work that will be of interest for readers studying motherhood, media, kinship and relationships inside and outside of anthropology.
References Hays, S.
The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood. Mothers often felt they had become remote from their families and in some cases, might return home to the Philippines to find that their children had not been cared for as they expected. Digital media change all that.
A migrant mother can now call and text her left-behind children several times a day, peruse social networking sites and leave the webcam on for 12 hours achieving a sense of co-presence. Skype, in particular, with the use of webcams, has revolutionised communications between mothers and children, especially small children who might have been no more than babies when their mothers left.
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