In 2016, the United Nations reported a historical high of 65.6 million globally displaced people. Within the current protectionist and isolationist climate, the U.S is accepting a fewer number of refugees for resettlement than ever before and less governmental funding is being allocated to resettlement organizations, which provide support services for refugee resettlement and integration.
Increased migration and the advancement of communication technologies with affordable access to these technologies have produced extensive communication networks and complex relational ties across the globe. While this is certainly true of all migrants, building and maintaining relational ties has added complexity for refugees whose journey to resettlement, economic insecurity, political disenfranchisement, and vulnerability impact the motivating factors for digital engagement.
This dissertation seeks to understand to what extent Diminescu’s (2008) concept of the connected migrant addresses the lived experience of resettled refugees in Phoenix, Arizona. The connected migrant through Information Communication Technology (ICT) use maintains transnational and local networks that produce mobility and belonging. Connected migrants are able to produce and maintain socio-technical sociality abroad and in the country of settlement to create and access social capital and resources. Using a grounded theory approach and qualitative methods, this research project explores concepts of mobility, connectivity, and belonging in relation to resettled refugees. The research indicates that age, imagined affordances, digital literacy, language, and time moderate connectivity, belonging, and mobility for resettled refugees. Finally, I offer the concept of transnational contextual relationality to understand refugee communication strategies with the transnational and local network.