Claudia Minchilli (University of Groningen) is the winner of the 2022 edition of the Ted Meijerprijs. In her dissertation “Localizing Digital Diasporas. Diasporic Digital Networking among Somali, Romanian and Turkish Women in Rome through the Lens of Social Class”, Claudia Minchilli investigates the diasporic digital practices of Somali, Romanian and Turkish migrant women living in Rome with a particular focus on the interrelation with social class dynamics and forms of social stratification from a gender perspective.
This dissertation investigates the diasporic digital practices of Somali, Romanian and Turkish migrant women living in Rome with a particular focus on the interrelation with social class dynamics and forms of social stratification from a gender perspective. Claudia Minchilli’s intervention aims at showing how looking at digital practices from an intersectional and local perspective that is sensitive to social class dynamics provides a vantage point for understanding the emergence and articulation of specific forms of digitally-led diasporic sociality on a local level. Therefore, this study intervenes in the scholarly field of digital diaspora studies by offering a different and critical perspective on how to approach, epistemologically and methodologically, the study of diasporic subjects’ networking, which is enhanced by the use of digital media. Her epistemological approach to the study of digital diasporas is influenced by feminist and postcolonial theories on migration and diaspora studies and sensitive to the analysis of contextual power dynamics as they act within the field of diaspora space. Minchilli shows how contextual power relations – and migrants’ positioning in relation to them – are implicated along the online–offline continuum in the process of migrants’ identity formation and community-making and in the articulation of a sense of belonging in a context of displacement. She looks at the role that diasporic subjects’ social class positioning has in the emergence of specific forms of digital practices while I also investigate how these practices interrelate with Somali, Romanian and Turkish women’s local dynamics of social stratification within their diasporic communities. This study wants to go beyond the idea that the study of digital diasporas are especially relevant to investigate diasporic transnational connectivity by showing how transnational and local digital practices for diasporic networking have a strong impact on local diasporic dynamics. This focus gives privilege to a grounded, small-scale perspective in the analysis of different ‘fields’ of digital diaspora as they emerge from Somali, Romanian and Turkish women’s accounts. Moreover, this local dimension in investigating digital diasporic sociality brings to the fore the role of Rome as a ‘quasi-global city’ in how it shapes the context in which migrant women act and experience their online and offline relationships. This study is based on an original methodological approach that, while being partial to ethnography to gather small-scale, qualitative data, has tried to put this method in dialogue with digital methods as a way to explore the fluidity and complexity of diasporic digital formations. The empirical studies proposed in this dissertation are the product of this exploration, showing different scales of possibilities and limitations of such a mixed methodology.The three case studies proposed are based on the findings gathered during one year of fieldwork with the Somali, Romanian and Turkish communities in Rome. Each empirical chapter explores, from an intersectional perspective, the relationship between the digital media practices for diasporic networking, the subjects’ social class and the dynamics of social stratification within each diasporic community.