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Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s: Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden. Ilkin Mehrabov Media & Communication Studies Karlstad University Sweden [email protected]

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Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s:Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden

Ilkin Mehrabov

Media & Communication Studies

Karlstad University

Sweden

[email protected]


The main aim of this doctoral dissertation is to help to reveal the true emancipatory potential of ICTs within the context of individual development and communal empowerment, ultimately contributing to ICT4D discourses as the end goal.

Scrutiny of the web of relationships built by the immigrant in the course of daily interactions, her everyday existence and struggles in relation to the legal, social, political and economic processes of the host country is conducive to producing an illuminating and complex panorama of that country by way of pinpointing a variety of macro and micro components that constitute the overall sociopolitical and cultural framework.

Ilkin Mehrabov, MKV, KAU [email protected]

Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s:

Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden


The primary aim of my doctoral dissertation is to explore and critically asses the trans/national social practices and imagination of immigrant communities, away from their own Heimat, and to address the constitution of “home” (in both material and symbolic terms) and place-making at the juncture of offline practices and media technology use.

Note: Terms migrants, immigrants and diasporas, even if used interchangeably in academic research, have different etymological meanings. Term 'immigrant' will be deployed in this paper, since it better covers transnationalism and migration from one country to another.

Chosen immigrant groups are the ones residing in Sweden and the main reason for choosing Sweden as the realm of research is due to multiple feasibility reasons. There are structural differences between these three groups which also contributed into their selection.

Ilkin Mehrabov, MKV, KAU [email protected]

Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s:

Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden


Some of the question that will guide the study are (but not limited to): do transnational migrants turn into cosmopolitan and/or rootless individuals "not with two or more homes, but with none; and not with more than one loyalty to place or nation, but with loyalty to any nation, and therefore a threat" (Silverstone, 2007, p. 11)?

Note: Christensen, 2011 makes a wonderful detection within this scope: "Diasporas are heterogeneous and it is often the case that segregating and Othering practices in the host country combined with ethnic and spatial isolation yield nationalistic, even militant, reflexes of protectionism, not cosmopolitanism" (p. 15).

Or, are they to be understood in more material terms, as subjects hoping for 'better' lives with "the diversity of expectations, investments and adjustments that all migration experiences entail" (Rosales, 2010, p. 509)?

The role of media technologies and communication routines in place-making and in constituting alternative spaces of belonging, and for civic practice and cultural citizenship (in the absence of national citizenship) will be explored.

Ilkin Mehrabov, MKV, KAU [email protected]

Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s:

Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden


  • The pillars of this study will be a theoretical framework embodying three fundamental tropes

  • identity, as expressed in Stuart Hall's terms of constant becoming instead of fixed belonging,

  • b) transnationalism, especially in relation to the approach of Steven Vertovec and his emphasis on super-diversity (Vertovec, 2007),

  • c) mediatization, as "a historical, ongoing, long-term process in which more and more media emerge and are institutionalized" (2009, p. 24), definition provided by Friedrich Krotz.

Ilkin Mehrabov, MKV, KAU [email protected]

Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s:

Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden


Any research focusing on transnationalism, be it (im)migrant and diasporic communities, their everyday communication within receiving host countries or the media technologies utilized when keeping in touch with their families, loved ones and countries of origin, (immigrants' media and ICT use, in short) needs to take into consideration the ongoing (meta)process of mediatization and the always-in-flux nature of identity construction. Taking “everyday practices” in the way defined by Michel de Certeau, my own specific focus within this scope will be the concept of 'home' and place-making via “mediation”.

In doing so, I take both the material and the imagined/imaginary aspects as I seek to capture the “mediated home” as an intermediary space between the migrant, the society she resides within - physical and social space(s), as well as online and virtual ones. For many transnational subjects, the actual condition of being "‘at home’ with the media is not a ‘mundane or ‘natural’ sense of belonging, but embedded in symbolic struggles, in which common sense understandings of territorial borders (typically of a geopolitical kind) interweave with more abstract or imaginary territorial constructs, such as taste cultures, genres, consumer segments, fan and supporter communities, and so on" (Christensen, Jansson & Christensen, 2011, p. 3).

Ilkin Mehrabov, MKV, KAU [email protected]

Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s:

Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden


By the methodological implementation of Bruno Latour's Actor-Network-Theory in my empirical research, that is, in line with his call to "follow the actors' own ways and begin our travels by the traces left behind by their activity", I will focus on the migrant's own stories and imaginations, self-positioning and construction of private and civic/communal places within the complex web of social relationships, and try to "remain in the same boat all along and play the same role" with them (Latour, 2007, p. 29; p. 34).

In this way, I will also produce an evaluation of the media and communication use pyramid by going from individual to communal, from local to national to international, thus pursuing the possibility of generating a comprehensive inquiry to "investigate the continuities, overlaps, and modes of symbiosis between old and new technologies of symbolic and material communications and the extent to which material geographies retain significance, even under changing technological conditions" (Morley, 2009, p. 115) and reveal the true emancipatory potential of ICTs within the context of individual development and communal empowerment, ultimately contributing to ICT4D discourses.

Ilkin Mehrabov, MKV, KAU [email protected]

Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s:

Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden


This can be realized by departing from an understanding that any new technology and gadget is only a medium in and of itself, and what matters is the actual use practices. Here, I take on board Morley’s "non-mediacentric analytical framework which will pay sufficient attention to the particularities of the media, without reifying their status and thus isolating them from the dynamics of the economic, social and political contexts in which they operate" (Morley, 2007, p. 1) and look at the role played by media technologies in everyday life. The employment of such a framework will enable me to avoid the myopia that "prevents media studies from grasping the broader landscape of how media do, and do not, figure in people's lives" (Couldry, 2006, p. 177).

Ilkin Mehrabov, MKV, KAU [email protected]

Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s:

Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden


  • My main concerns/goals while currently finalizing my theoretical framework and methodological base, and later on starting actual field work will be driven by David Morley’s call for

  • de-Westernized

  • Non-media centric

  • Materialist

  • approaches when engaging with the media and communication studies field.

Ilkin Mehrabov, MKV, KAU [email protected]

Construction and constitution of trans(national) 'home'(land)s:

Azerbaijani, Russian and Turkish (im)migrant communities in Sweden


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