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Digital Orientations

Non-Media-Centric Media Studies and Non-Representational Theories of Practice


Shaun Moores

Might it be possible to rearticulate the term digital in digital media, so that it refers at least as much to the deft movements or orientations of hands and fingers (of digits) as it does to the new media technologies themselves? What if digital media are understood as manual media?

Has the academic field of media studies tended to focus too much on media, and not enough on the practices and experiences of daily living that help to give media their meaningfulness? What if media researchers were to pay more attention to knowledge-in-movement or to matters of orientation and habitation, and rather less to those of symbolic representation and cognitive interpretation?

Digital Orientations is a bold call for non-media-centric media studies (and ultimately for everyday-life studies) with a non-representational theoretical emphasis. The author engages here with a broad range of work from across the humanities and social sciences, drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological philosophy, Ingold’s anthropology, the geographies of Massey, Seamon and Thrift, and the sociologies of Bourdieu, Sudnow and Urry.

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Chapter 5. On the Environmental Experiences of Trans-European Migrants: Knowing How to Get Around (with Monika Metykova)


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Knowing How to Get Around (with Monika Metykova)

Meet Petra, one of the 20 young, trans-European migrants interviewed in the course of our collaborative research project on matters of environmental experience, place and migration. This Hungarian woman had been living in London for 18 months when the interview with her was recorded in 2007, having moved there from Budapest, and at that time she was working as a nanny.

Petra spoke of how, initially, she found London to be a strange and alienating urban environment. There were several reasons for this, which she set out as follows:

I’d learned some English at home but not so much.… At the beginning, I was even scared to travel on my own.… In fact, the transport was very strange for me…I was literally feeling unwell on the underground…an enclosed space.… The fact…you had to look in a different direction when you stepped off the pavement as well…once I was almost run over by a car because I looked in the wrong direction.

This feeling of being an outsider was compounded by an uncomfortable situation at work. Before finding employment as a nanny (with a Belgian family living near Queensway), Petra had been washing dishes in the kitchen of a cafe, following her arrival in the English capital city in 2005. She explained that her boss...

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