Shady Ancestors : Queering digital diaspora research

Over the last couple of decades, queer theory has stimulated researchers in different
disciplines to fundamentally question central concepts around identity, body, gender, sexuality, and
belonging. Scholarship on diasporic media, however, has been slow to engage with queer theory’s
contributions; much research still works with definitions of diaspora based upon simple notions
such as ‘ethnic belonging’ and fails to interrogate the hetero and cisnormativities that structure
phenomena such as mediascapes, bo rder regimes, and migration discourses. After discussing some
of the theoretical and methodological interventions that queer theory can bring to digital diaspora
research, this article presents a case study to exemplify how queer theoretical discussions ca n be
implemented in research. Madi Ancestors was initially planned as a festival in a theater building in
Berlin to remember and celebrate Turkey’s queer idols, but was then forced by the COVID 19 pan-
demic to migrate from a physical space to a digital plat form. My explorative analysis of this process
demonstrates how media practices bring forth a sense of queer diasporic belonging both locally and
transnationally. Drawing on rich data gathered through digital ethnography, intimate insider re-
search, intervie ws, and ethno mimesis, I show how queer theoretical examination of digital diaspo-
ra can detail new forms of belonging, intergenerational kinship, and the fragmentation of diasporic
spaces through digital media.


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