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'Online togetherness' of Brazilian migrants on social network sites

Mieke Schrooten is a doctoral candidate in the Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre at the KU Leuven (University of Leuven, under the supervision of prof.dr. Christiane Stallaert) and a lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel. She received her master's degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Utrecht in 2007. Her current research focuses on the anthropology of social networking, investigating how new media affect the experience of migration and the conditions of being a migrant. In her PhD, she examines how Brazilian migrants make use of new media to settle down, feel connected, make a livelihood in Belgium and remain in touch with their family and friends back home.

Specifically, she investigates the 'online togetherness' of Brazilian migrants on social network sites such as Orkut or Facebook. In many cities all over the world with a significant number of Brazilian migrants, SNS members have formed online migrant 'communities'. These communities play a significant role as an access gate to information that can be used to organize their migration and daily life at the scene of arrival. In the SNS communities she is studying, Mieke found that the key functions of these communities are different in each stage of the migration process. Also, the degree of users' involvement varies, ranging from consumption or lurking -  a loose online togetherness - to a strong social life online -  an intense online togetherness. 

Mieke's main research interests are in migration and transnationalism; migrant communities; Brazilian migration; the consequences of new media for interpersonal relationships, especially in the context of migration; and online anthropology. Her recent publications include "Moving ethnography online: Researching Brazilian migrants' online togetherness", in Ethnic and Racial Studies. Special issue: "Methodologies on the Move: The Transnational Turn in Empirical Migration Research (2012) and "Internal migration and ethnic divison: The case of Palmas, Brazil", in The Australian Journal of Anthropology (2011).