Terra Firma and the digitally co-present migrant : exploring the significance of landscape for the newcomer
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Subjectcommunication; digital co-presence; interpretative phenomenological analysis; landscape; migrant; place attachment
This thesis presents an interpretative phenomenological analysis in anecdotal narratives of several digitally co-present migrants’ agency, access, and attachment process in the context of their new geography, the landscape of the Pacific Northwest in the Seattle, Washington, area. Interviews, enhanced by photo elicitation of interactions with local landscapes and images shared by sending communities, probed for ways participants made embodied connection with new landscapes for continuity and identity while sustaining profound emotional support through disembodied real-time communication with distant family. In their process of creating belonging, immigrants’ practice of eco-presence, a neologism for connecting with restorative natural landscapes, ranged from acute to subtle. Desire for knowledge of natural environments was universally expressed but learning was hampered by lack of time and access due to resettlement stresses. Digital or virtual co-presence was a tool, not a detriment, in establishing a new home, expanding identity, and reflecting a transnational habitus. Insights offer potential for enhancing resettlement agencies’ communication and program development that directly addresses the benefits of connecting with new physical geography to newcomers’ identity, well-being, and belonging.
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