Just a Click Away from Home: Ecuadorian Migration, Nostalgia and New Technologies in Transnational Times

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Focusing on three different narrations of migration from Ecuador to the United States, Spain and Italy, this documentary video and its study guide explore how new technologies such as the Internet, satellite communications, email, videoconferences, and cell phones have changed the experience of displacement. The two components of this dissertation propose that, due to the encounter with new technologies intent upon shrinking space and time, nostalgia is becoming digital -a quest for continuity of time and space through the simultaneity offered by digital media. Under these new circumstances, transnational businesses profit from nostalgic markets, whereas transnational families and organizations grapple with digital technologies to foment a "globalization of solidarity."

As an aesthetic artefact, the project responds to the controversy within film theory regarding subjectivity and fiction storytelling procedures as defining features of documentary, a film genre traditionally marketed as objective and non-fictional. For this reason, the video is composed of what I call not three case studies but three stories of migration. The documentary starts out in Cuenca (Ecuador), where, speechless, Arturo and Mercedes see their children on the videoconferencing screen. It is their first "reunion" since the children left Ecuador and settled in New York City, eleven years ago. In another Ecuadorian city, Gloria -whose husband migrated from Quito to Madrid- promotes Internet access to rescue families torn apart by migration. Finally, we meet Carla, a journalist settled in Milan, who takes advantage of new technologies to report on the Ecuadorian community in Italy for readers far away.

With a comparative and translocal approach -and theoretically based on Hall, Appadurai, Boym, Nichols and Portes among others-, this project explores multiple relationships with new technologies determined by gender, age, race, ethnicity, education, computer literacy, geographical situation, and socio-economic background. Through their differing and even contradictory discourses and practices, expressed and lived in geographical locations that coexist and overlap on the screen, the protagonists of this dissertation-documentary video show us to what extent they are inscribed in different places of enunciation that shape their experience of displacement and nostalgia in contrasting ways.