Mapping the National Web: Spaces and cultures of diasporic mobilisation in the digital age


Thursday November 19, 3pm – 4.30, Online via Zoom

National web is the idea that our online experience remains profoundly shaped by geographical, cultural, and political borders: online spaces emerge as series of country-, language-, and community-specific spheres, organized and structured by search engines, platforms, and devices used to access them. Just like diasporic collectives mobilise among those living outside their country of origin, national web is also an entity that emerges and exists in flux, through the production and circulation of culturally significant content and genres. This similarity between both entities – diasporas and national webs – make their relationship a novel object of empirical inquiry. A wealth of textual and visual data, produced in the process of mediated communication among diasporic actors, turn social media into a point of entry for studying national webs. In this talk, I explore hyperlinking behaviours among Ukrainian Canadians to map geographic, linguistic, and political boundaries of the Ukrainian national web. Shedding light on the spaces and cultures of diasporic mobilisation in the digital age, I identify distinct web spheres that mediate the Ukrainian Canadians’ relationship to their country of origin.

Olga Boichak is a sociologist of digital media and a Lecturer in Digital Cultures at the University of Sydney. Her primary interest lies in networks, discourses, and cultures of activism in the digital age; she fuses ethnographic and computational methods to study activist collectives in the deeply mediatized contexts of war, arts, and religion. Olga holds a doctorate in social science from Syracuse University (U.S.) and has published on digitally mediated identity building, diasporic activism, state legitimacy, and algorithmic surveillance. She is currently working on a book project that explores the role of digital cultures in decolonial geopolitics in contemporary Ukraine.