Travel Scholarship Recipient #AoIR2022 – Michele Ferris Dobles

by | Oct 31, 2022 | Awards, Conferences

Each year a small portion of AoIR conference fees go toward several travel scholarships for junior scholars to attend the conference. We want to recognize our scholarship recipients and share with you a little bit about them and their research interests.

Who are you? 
Hello, my name is Michele Ferris Dobles.

What is your background?
My name is Michele Ferris Dobles and I am from Costa Rica, Central America. I am a media and communication researcher, documentary filmmaker, and professor at the University of Costa Rica. I am also a facilitator of collaborative communication projects with communities and social organizations. I studied for my MA in filmmaking at Wake Forest University and my Ph.D. in communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Both of my graduate degrees in the U.S were funded by Fulbright scholarships.

What is your current area of study?
My research interests are in the intersection of communication and media research, science and technology studies, and the social sciences. I study the interconnections between communication technologies, interpersonal communication, social organization, activism, narratives, and media infrastructure(s). I apply hybrid ethnographic methods to study the political and cultural dimensions of media technology and the relationship between social inequalities and technological usage and design. I am also interested in communication for social change, I love applying participatory storytelling techniques to create collaborative videos and other mediated narratives with different groups and communities.

Describe the research you will present at #AoIR2022.
I am presenting my research titled “Breaking the myth of the “other”: Resistance and the use of technology during the migration journey” on the panel “The Underside of Technology: Lifecycles of Liberation in the Digital Age“. This research, which is based on my dissertation study, exposes the uses, rituals, and meanings of media infrastructures during the processes of human mobility and migration. It offers a unique view of the Central American migrant experience as dependent upon and reacting to critical media infrastructures. I expose how the migrants of the global south both rely upon and transgress, mobile technologies and the critical infrastructure which supports them. A key finding of my research is that migrants experience navigation in a hybrid way, as they rely simultaneously on digital and physical infrastructures for movement. I propose the concept of “hybrid navigation” to describe the experience that migrants have when they use their smartphones to simultaneously navigate both digital and non-digital spaces—migrants experience their journey with and through their mobile devices. I conclude that we cannot comprehend the experience of contemporary human mobilities without taking into consideration the technological elements that are now entrenched as part of the migratory experience of movement.

Have you presented at AoIR in the past? If yes, what has been your experience? If #AoIR2022 Dublin is your first AoIR conference, what made you choose this conference? What do you expect from it?
This is my third time at AoIR. I had the opportunity to present at #AoIR2019 in Brisbane, Australia, and at  #AoIR2020 online conference.