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ICT-Mediated Diaspora Studies: New Directions in Immigrant Information Behavior Research

Ajit Pyati, Clara Chu, Karen Fisher, Ramesh Srinivasan, Nadia Caidi, Danielle Allard and Diane Dechief

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


A growing and sizeable area of study within information behavior research focuses on the information needs and behaviors of immigrant populations (see Chu, 1999; Fisher, Durrance & Hinton, 2004; Caidi & Allard 2005; Srinivasan & Pyati, 2007). Some of the unique needs of these populations include information to aid with coping skills and social inclusion, as well as culturally specific information resources. Moreover, immigrant communities have information networks that span national boundaries, which affects their needs and uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

This panel will focus on the role of ICTs in mediating the information environments of immigrant and diasporic communities. While focusing on how ICTs mediate immigrant information needs, this panel also contextualizes immigrant information behavior research within globalization and diaspora studies. For instance, the concept of “e-diaspora” is a term gaining in popularity, but rarely invoked in relation to immigrant information behavior research. How do new media technologies mediate and influence the information needs and behaviors of immigrant populations? Are localized immigrant information needs mediated by diasporic information sources?

The panelists will focus on ICT-mediated services for immigrant populations within the context of both local and global information environments. Questions addressed include: In what ways do diasporic information environments shape local immigrant information needs and their social inclusion into the host society? How does the “digital divide” manifest itself in studies of ICT-mediated immigrant information behavior? The issues addressed by the panel are both timely and critical as evidenced by the ongoing debates in Europe, North America and elsewhere on immigration policy, on integration and identity, and the role of ICTs in a globalized world. This international perspective will be reflected in the composition of the panel.

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