Academic journal article Refuge

"Refugee Voices," New Social Media and Politics of Representation: Young Congolese in the Diaspora and Beyond

Academic journal article Refuge

"Refugee Voices," New Social Media and Politics of Representation: Young Congolese in the Diaspora and Beyond

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article examines the role of new social media in the articulation and representation of the refugee and diasporic "voice." The article problematizes the individualist, de-politicized, de-contextualized, and aestheticized representation of refugee/diasporic voices. It argues that new social media enable refugees and diaspora members to exercise agency in managing the creation, production, and dissemination of their voices and to engage in hybrid (on- and offline) activism. These new territories for self-representation challenge our conventional understanding of refugee/diaspora voices. The article is based on research with young Congolese living in the diaspora, and it describes the Geno-cost project created by the Congolese Action Youth Platform (CAYP) and JJ Bola's spoken-word piece, "Refuge." The first shows agency in the creation of analytical and activist voices that promote counter-hegemonic narratives of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, while the second is an example of aesthetic expressions performed online and offline that reveal agency through authorship and ownership of one's voice. The examples highlight the role that new social media play in challenging mainstream politics of representation of refugee/diaspora voices.

Resume

Cet article etudie le role des nouveaux medias sociaux dans la politique de la representation de la <> des refugies et de la diaspora. Il propose une problematisation des approches trop souvent depoliticisees, uniformisees et individualisees a la representation des << voix des refugies et de la diaspora>>. Il soutient que les nouveaux medias sociaux permettent aux refugies d'exercer leur propre volonte d'agir en gerant la creation, la production et la dissemination de recits alternatifs et en sengageant dans un militantisme hybride (en ligne ainsi que hors ligne). Ces nouveaux lieux d'auto-representation mettent en question nos conceptions conventionnelles des voix des refugies et de la diaspora. En se basant sur la recherche parmi dejeunes Congolais faisantpartie de la diaspora au Royaume-Uni, l'article decrit leprojetgeno-cost developpe par le Congolese Action Youth Platform (CAYP), ainsi que la creationpoetique orale intitulee <> de)]Bola. Le premier exemple etudie l'exercice de la volonte d'agir qui se manifeste dans le developpement de voix analytiques et militantes qui appuient des recits anti-hegemoniques concernant les causes et les solutions du conflit prolonge en Republique democratique du Congo, alors que le deuxieme exemple represente une instance d'expression politique et esthetique performee en ligne ainsi que hors ligne qui demontre la volonte d'agir par l'entremise de la creation et la possession de sa propre voix. Effectivement, ces exemples soulignent le role quejouent les nouveaux medias sociaux pour contrer les politiques conventionnelles de representation en matiere de voix des refugies et de ceux qui font partie de la diaspora.

Introduction

This article argues that the use of new social media challenges mainstream constructions of "refugee voices" in two ways: first, by challenging existing power relations among refugees/diaspora members and other social actors such as researchers, representatives of humanitarian agencies, and journalists; and second, by enabling refugee and diasporic groups to challenge the concept of "refugee voices" by re-politicizing, heterogenizing, and adding a collective dimension to the term. The accessibility of new social media promotes refugee agency in managing the creation, production, and dissemination of a multiplicity of "situated refugee voices" (1) while challenging some of its misconceptions. In the first section of the article we problematize the concept of "refugee voices." The second section describes two projects that highlight new ways of representing activist "voices" within the Congolese diaspora youth. …

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