ISBN 9789956728411
Pages 548
Dimensions 229 x 152 mm
Published 2013
Publisher Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon
Format Paperback

Sociality Revisited?

The Use of the Internet and Mobile Phones in Urban Cameroon

by Bettina Anja Frei

This book draws on the perspectives of non-migrants and urban youth in Bamenda, in the Northwest region of Cameroon, as well as on the views of Cameroonian migrants in Switzerland, to explore the meaning and role of New Media in the negotiation of sociality in transnational migration. New Media facilitated connectedness serve as a privileged lens through which Cameroonians, home and away, scrutinise and mediate sociality. In this rich ethnography, Bettina Frei describes how the internet and mobile phones are adopted by migrants and their non-migrant counterparts in order to maintain transnational relationships, and how the specific medialities of these communication technologies in turn impact on transnational sociality. Contrary to popular presumptions that New Media are experienced as mainly connecting and enabling, this study reveals that in a transnational context in particular, New Media serve to mediate tensions in transnational social ties. The expectations of being connected go hand in hand with an awareness of social and geographical distance and separation.

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“Bettina Frei’s long term comparative study nicely complements Available and Reachable: New Media and Transnational Cameroonian Sociality by Primus Tazanu (Langaa 2012) – her tandem partner in a model collaborative PhD initiative involving two researchers from different cultural and national backgrounds studying the same phenomenon among Cameroonians in each other’s country. Frei’s research is based on profound knowledge of Bamenda and the many personal relationships she forged there for a year.”

Professor Judith Schlehe, Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Freiburg, Germany

“In this study, Frei makes the central argument that face-to-face situations and encounters in co-presence are still the normality of sociality and the orientation of social actors in Bamenda and among its diaspora. Hence, mediated sociality is normatively evaluated according to how far it corresponds to this form of direct sociality in co-presence. Mediated sociality is limited and in deficit. Not only does it not comply with the imperative of physical co-presence, it cannot succeed to medially evoke all the senses, which are central in a face-to-face encounter.”

Professor Till Förster, Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel, Switzerland

About the Author

Bettina Anja Frei

Bettina Anja Frei obtained her PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Basel, Switzerland in 2012. She has worked as a lecturer in the same institution from 2006 to 2008 and from 2012 to 2013.

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