Dr. Silvia Mejia, College of Saint Rose - Digital Nostalgia
Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Dr. Silvia Mejia of the College of Saint Rose explains how advances in digital technology are allowing emigrants to maintain ties to home and family like never before.
Silvia Mejia is an assistant professor at the College of Saint Rose where she teaches courses in Spanish and American Studies. Since 1992 she has worked as a reporter, correspondent and editor for the national daily newspapers Hoy (Ecuador) and La Prensa Gr fica (El Salvador), as well as the magazines EuropMagazine (France) and Cash (Ecuador). She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.
Dr. Silvia Mejia - Digital Nostalgia
Inspired by my own experience as an Ecuadorian immigrant living in the United States, I began exploring how digital technologies are changing the experience of displacement, and how nostalgia may be taking new forms in this late capitalist age when, as ads posted on immigrant-oriented web sites claim, home is "just a click away."
I argue that as the use of new technologies intent upon shrinking space and time spreads, nostalgia might be becoming digital. Documenting the daily life of Ecuadorian immigrants living in the U.S., Spain, and Italy prompted me to coin the term "digital nostalgia" to capture the ways in which displaced people pursue continuity of space and time through the simultaneity offered by digital media.
If nostalgia as we knew it was all about idealization and one's own romance with the time and the home left behind, digital nostalgia is about the annihilation of longing through constant and real-time exposure to a home and a time that are never really left behind. This seems to be the case of immigrant workers who are followed by the complications and needs from home wherever they can be reached by email, cell phone, or videoconference. Here, overexposure to home leaves no time or space for longing.
Yet, digital nostalgia is also about migrants consciously using the simultaneity offered by digital technologies to erase distance and create an "effect" of continuity. Many displaced people have increasingly been getting involved in their country's current affairs through the use of electronic media finding, in the process, a sense of belonging that they do not necessarily enjoy in their places of resettlement.