Digital Culture Research Network

Digital Culture Research Network presents a Forum with Dr. Matt Voigts

Pope Building B23, University Park
Tuesday 10th December 2019 (13:00-14:00)

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This talk explores how refugees from the Nottingham area manage privacy on social media as they navigate the challenges of the UK asylum process. The discussion applies asylum seekers’ experiences, utilizing digital anthropology methods and theory, to better qualify privacy as a cultural and legal concept. Privacy concerns abound in the digital era, as vast amounts of personal data are routinely created, analyzed, and sold with individuals’ limited consent and knowledge.

Discussions of how these processes violate privacy, however, often centre on an idealized ‘private citizen’, a homeowner with authority within the domestic space and high public status. Asylum seekers, by contrast, arrive in the UK seeking protection and in practice find where they may live, rights to work, and other opportunities to materially pursue ‘private’ and ‘public’ life heavily proscribed. Even as their lives are threatened, refugees move while envisioning long-term futures for themselves and their families. They use social media channels like Facebook and WhatsApp to selectively communicate with distant friends and family, to pursue personal interests and maintain continuities in relationships across other profound life changes.

At the same time, asylum applicants often find producing credible information more challenging than protecting it. Altogether, the material foundations afforded by legal rights to reside and work help privacy function closer to the ideal ways in which it is often discussed.

Please bring your own lunch

Free, but register at


Location: University Park, Pope Building B23


Dr. Matt Voigts completed his PhD in Anthropology / Digital Economy Research at the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training, University of Nottingham. He previously earned an MSc in Digital Anthropology at UCL (2012) and BA in Writing from Wartburg College (2007). He has worked professionally in multi-media production, marketing, education, and as editor and lead journalist of the print weekly The Wright County Monitor in his hometown of Clarion, Iowa, USA. In addition to his current research he has written on film, Chinese media piracy, and American atheist summer camps.


The Digital Culture Research Network, based at the University of Nottingham, welcomes those interested in interrogating the significance of the digital, inquiring into how and if it mediates daily experience, power relations or symbolic, embodied and collective meaning making.

Digital Culture Research Network

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD