What does digital storytelling have in common with precarious work and Karl Polanyi?

Authors: Siobhán Mcphee*, University of British Columbia
Topics: Social Geography, Communication, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: digital storytelling, dissembededness, precarity, empathy
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Storytelling is “the primary form by which human experience is made meaningful” (Polkinghorne, 1988:84). Digital storytelling re-invigorates people’s relationships with place, bringing people together in shared experiences, making the invisible visible and bringing narrative experiences to new environments (Gakhar & Thompson, 2007).
I combine this claim that digital storytelling re-invigorates people’s relationships with place and each other with my focus in labour geography. In my focus on Polanyi’s framing that the economy is disembedded from society I attempt to present migrant workers and refugees as not simply a valued ‘worker’. Polanyi in arguing that the economy is disembedded from the rest of societal institutions was adopting a substantivist approach. Humans make a living through interacting within social and natural environments, and if we do not see ‘workers’ as embedded within wider processes we will never have a just and equitable society (Polanyi 1944). If individuals within ‘host societies’ can begin to engage with migrants and refugees on different levels that what they do for work, the ability to relate and to empathize will emerge. This is the very foundation of social justice, relating to others on multiple levels beyond the socially constructed labels that are enforced on us (Cameron 2012; Alderman et al. 2018). My current work focuses on the use of audio in an AR-content for digital storytelling and ArcGIS StoryMaps as a visual and audio interactive digital storytelling method.

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