Network Cultures (604)

Welcome to the website for CS604: Network Cultures, a graduate course at WLU. We will be exploring networks as metaphor, concept, and practice.

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  1. The Networks Surrounding Refugee Resettlment

    With the Syrian Crisis now reaching the world’s largest population displacement, an unparalleled 65.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes (UNHCR). This massive population displacement has disrupted and altered many networks, resulting in a population redistribution between Canada and Syria. The networks surrounding citizen and non-citizen have become more visible within society; for instance refugees must wait three years to apply for Canadian citizenship. Consequently, these laws restrict refugees access to particular networks, but open up access to others. Therefore, refugees can experience a dimension of constraint because of their refugee status, which distinguishes them from other citizens. For example, refugees are unable to vote, showing one aspect of the dimension of power Canadian citizens hold within society.

    To accommodate the growing number of refugees within Canada financial and material resources have shifted within society, straining other dimensions of the network. Bruno Latour’s Networks, Societies, Spheres: Reflection of an Actor-Network Theorist explores the concept of networks and how “what was invisible becomes visible,” explaining the way that networks can change and transform (Latour, 798). Latour’s understandings connect to the maneuvering of networks Syrian refugees are facing; as newcomers entering a new community this group of people have been forced to establish new networks. A few of the new networks consist of: new employment, churches, schools, doctors, banks, and grocery stores.

    Another area where networks constraints are visible within Canada is surrounding the refugee entrance policies. The Government of Canada’s website states in relation to the resettlement policy that, “we focused on identifying vulnerable refugees who are a lower security risk such as women, complete families and people at risk due to membership in the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community” (Government of Canada, 2016). Therefore, within Canada complexities are at play surrounding the vulnerability of refugees and who fits into that vulnerable category, or ‘privileged’ network. This policy relates to the affordances of unequal power distributions within this networks. Certain groups of people are favored more than others, displaying another one of the power dimensions present within this complex network.

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