INTERSECTIONS OF OFFLINE AND VIRTUAL CONTACT ZONES: TRANSNATIONAL MIGRANTS’ TRANSCULTURAL ENCOUNTERS IN SINGAPORE

Tabea Bork-Hüffer

Abstract


The emergence of a multiplicity of new technologies in the new media age has substantially changed migration experiences, communication and information channels, and means and types of social participation and interaction of migrants (cf. Hopkins 2009, Alonso 2010, Alonso and Oiarzabal 2010, Ros 2010, Oiarzabal and Reips 2012). Research on the role of new media for migrants has so far focused particularly on the change of the nature and organisation of transnational social networks to other transnational subjects through the new media. Much less often has research focused on how new media are influencing the ways and types of engagements and interactions between the migrant and host population, on the effects of their virtual encounters, and the dialectic connections between virtual and offline relations. As Massey (20127: 91) has pointed out, the "question which is raised by speed-up, by 'the communications revolution' and by cyberspace, is not whether space will be annihilated but what kinds of multiplicities (patternings of uniqueness) and relations will be co- constructed with these new kinds of spatial configurations". As a result, in this paper I am inquiring: How do encounters in virtual space interlink with or even shape offline transcultural encounters and vice versa? How are both types of encounters shaping transcultural knowledge and experiences and notions of "the other". In how far do both types of encounters reduce or produce transcultural prejudices and stereotypes? If and how has the relation between online and offline encounters and their effects changed related to the length of stay of migrants in their migration destination?

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