Researcher

Jolynna Sinanan

Jolynna Sinanan

Latest Trinidad blog post

Visualising Facebook by Daniel Miller and Jolynna Sinanan

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 15:48:16 +0000

Today marks the publication of a new book called Visualising Facebook, which I have written with Dr Jolynna Sinanan. It is available as a free download from UCL Press and also for purchase in physical form. One of the key arguments from the larger Why We Post project, of which this book is one out of […]

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Trinidad field site

Street view of Trinidad fieldsite

The Trinidad field site has a population of approximately 18,000 people, depending on where you draw the town's boundaries. Trinidadian society, whose ethnic make up is 40% African descent, 40% East Indian descent and 20% other (Chinese, Lebanese ['Syrian'], Portuguese, Spanish, French and English) is reflected in this small, semi-urban town. Situated in the gateway from the city to the country, the town is literally caught between two worlds. At once, it is experiencing rapid economic growth, modernisation and expansion and at the same time, it is still described and a sleepy, traditional town with a strong sense of family and community values by its inhabitants.

This makes for a fascinating investigation into the use of social media, where a town characterised by both ordinariness and rapid change may experience and use different platforms in very specific as well as 'universal' ways. Like other field sites on this project, the town experiences a significant amount of relocation and migration by its citizens, many were born elsewhere or have several relatives living abroad or in other parts of the country. Transnational migration is nothing new for Trinidadians, but social media may be transforming relationships within close knit families who now live far away from each other.

In terms of cultural comparison, particularly Trinidadian events such as Carnival offer insights to the use of social media and in particular the circulation of images on Facebook. The town has also recently introduced wi-fi hotspots and this is the second year of the national one-laptop-per-child program, which is increasing access to groups of people who have not owned a computer previously.

The field site is also a typical small town in that most people know each other or have grown up in close proximity of each other. The concerns for privacy may not be the same as in more individualised societies, such as Australia where I live. The idea of “community” itself is emerging as a key concept that is transforming in the area, and with it, issues of identity, belonging and mobility. 


European Research CouncilEuropean UnionUCL Department of Anthropology

Grant number: ERC Project 2011-AdG-295486 SocNet
Project title: Social Network Sites and Social Science