28/10/2022 (Friday) 13:00-14:00 E21B-G002

The stories that tell us: An ethnographic approach to understanding mediated storytelling practices for family intimacy during migration


Within a family, narratives help define the relationship by allowing each member to articulate their relational needs, desires, and expectation. For migrant families, the need to craft and share coherent family narratives becomes ever more crucial given the limited physical encounters. In this talk, I will share the findings from a three-year mixed-mode ethnography of Indonesian migrant helpers in Hong Kong, focusing on the emergent narrative practices on social media and their roles in family intimacy and resilience. Drawing on narrative theories, polymedia, and family display, I will argue that migrant mothers’ storytelling via digital media reveals intricate, yet precarious discursive mechanisms by which they reaffirm familial bonds and maternal identity during separation. The talk will conclude with a personal reflection on the ethics of ethnography among the marginalized population, especially on three dimensions: reciprocity, handling of dirty knowledge, and ethnographic exit.

Dr Louis Waruwu is a Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Applied Social Sciences at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He obtained his PhD in Media and Communication from City University of Hong Kong. Through his research, he explores the implications of smartphones and social media on family communication, community building, stress-coping, and resilience from a sociotechnical perspective. His first- and solo-authored articles have been published in highly-ranked peer-reviewed academic journals, including New Media & Society, Mobile Media & Communication, and Media, Culture & Society.