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Negotiating Conviviality: The Use of Information and Communication Technologies by Migrant Members of the Bay Community Church

Saturday 28 June 2014, author(s)-editor(s) Paula Hay

This book is an ethnographic study of a group of migrants in Cape Town from Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa. It seeks to understand how migrants overcome structural exclusion by forming and maintaining convivial relationships through the Bay Community Church and how this is facilitated by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The book argues that ICTs are implicated in the negotiation of conviviality. ICTs allow for a negotiation of intimacy and distance; although their functions may facilitate more contact than is desired or further distance those already separated physically.

This book interrogates the strict division between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ and highlights that migrants are able to sustain multiple networks and relationships, linking their home and host countries. Despite increasingly strict border control and animosity from host communities, migrants are able to overcome imposed identities such as ‘outsider’. They do so by using ICTs such as cell phones and Facebook to emphasise their Christian identity, which is one of the main factors for inclusion in church-based networks. Membership with a mixed denominational church such as the Bay further challenges the notion that migrants stick to themselves. Inclusive communities such as the Bay and everyday desires for conviviality evoke the need to reconsider policies too narrowly articulated around the dichotomisation of ‘foreigners’ and ‘nationals’, ‘home’ and ‘away’, ‘us’ and ‘them’.

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ISBN 9789956792726 | 138 pages | 216 x 140mm | 2014 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback

2 Book Reviews

  • “The analysis and discussions in this study are informed by a sophisticated knowledge and use of the relevant scientific literature. The book demonstrates Paula Hay’s ability to present a substantial body of research results concerning the particular nexus made by migration, a low socioeconomic condition, the experience of belonging to a worship community and the efficient use of ICTs.”

    Jean-Pierre Warnier, Professor of Anthropology and Material Culture, Centre d’Etudes africaines (EHESS-IRD), Paris, France

  • “This book provides a healthy balance of empirical description, ethnographic analysis, relevant scholarly discussion, and methodological reflection. The topic is timely, both the focus on migrants and their use of new media, within the context of a newer generation Christian community. Paula Hay chooses her theoretical tools and concepts judiciously, rightly interrogating any rigid distinctions between insiders and outsiders or intimacy and distance….. Not surprisingly her heightened reflexivity leads her to hope for a greater democratization of the knowledge production process.”

    Rosalind I. J. Hackett, Professor of the History of Religions, University of Tennessee