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A Qualitative Approach to Identity and Media Usage of Sub-Saharan Refugees in Dzaleka Camp, Malawi

This empirical thesis draws upon interviews with refugees in the sub-Saharan Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi, in order to examine the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in everyday life at the camp. The hosted refugees use especially the mobile phone and social media applications to keep in touch with different networks and to organize their daily life. Moreover, the phone and social media play a decisive part in constructing identity within the African Refugee Paradigm. Through the grounded theory method and inductive
reasoning, this paper looks at the everyday life of the refugees at the camp and the implications and restrictions executed by their determined status as refugees. In the process of diasporic identity construction different aspects become manifest: the localities of deterritorialized media practices, the media repertoire in terms of
accessibility, the communication networks, and different strategies of social media usage. This in turn impacts the participants’ perception of identity and leads to a new subjectivity. With the media-communicative change, the refugee community is able to construct identity across borders, and the smartphone serves as the most important infrastructure and bestows, to some extent, agency on the participants.