Mapping Transnational Diasporic Ties and Connections: The Case of Bade Cakir
Laura Candidatu, Olga Boichak, Mundo Yang
Digital media have begun to have an important contribution in the redefining and development of migrant networks (Dekker and Engbersen 2013), as well as in the shaping and construction of the diasporic subjects (Alonso and Oiarzabal 2010) leading recent scholars to investigate the specificity and impact of the newly formed “digital diasporas,” mobilized by the “connected” nature of nowadays migrants (Diminescu 2008). Digital diasporas take different forms, depending on the method of investigations, but the most of the humanities based approach on digital diasporas, although bringing valuable scholarly insights, are descriptive, importing tools and methodologies developed for offline phenomena, and concentrating on individual websites. Diminescu and Loveluck (2014) propose a new approach for the study of digital diasporas that can make justice to the specific ways in which diasporas are being formed and are developing on the web, yet, albeit the important contributions , the authors recognize the limitations of the research results in not accounting for the everyday interaction of diasporic individuals. Considering the limitations of the two approaches, a consolidated investigation of e–diasporas asks thus for both a methodology that accounts for the medium specificity, as well as a feminist anthropological grounded–ness able to address multiple, intersecting, axes of differentiation in the everyday life. In this sense, by the use of issues mapping as a methodological approach, the diasporic engagement could be traced across different platforms in a heuristic way, opening up the space for emic diasporic “issuefications,” (Rogers 2015) as well as for the dynamicity of the (e)diasporic space.
Bade Cakir, a 4-year old Dutch-Turkish girl living in the Netherlands, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2015. Months after, a public call for stem cell donation was made by the girl’s parents in January 2016. This call for donations was specifically addressed to ethnically Turkish people since the chances of compatibility would be higher. However, unfortunately, the available stem cell pool contained mainly donations from white Dutch people, which were not compatible with Bade Cakir’s.
As reported by one community respondent who is a member of the Turkish diaspora in the Netherlands, the issue gained great visibility within the diaspora, especially through the use of social media. An initial exploratory research revealed a strong connection between the Turkish Dutch diasporas and the Turkish German diasporas, as well as strong visibility in the homeland. This aspect proves to be interesting for further explorations with regards to the cross-diasporic ties and connections. Additionally, the issue represented a first step in creating bigger awareness over discussions on citizenship and equal access to health care, more specifically on the need to have more stem cell donors with a non-western ethnic background. This issue is currently further carried out in the media and online outlets by the Turkse vrijwilligers Stichting (Facebook page: Hollanda Türk Gönüllüler Vakfı).
Initial data sets
- Collection of 2 Facebook Pages (extracted with Netvizz) containing relevant pages on the Turkish diasporic community from the Netherlands and implicated countries such as Germany. In order to build this set, With this data set we make a Facebook page-like network using Netvizz.
- News data: a collection of URLs of online news articles and sources built using the first 10 hyperlinks of Google Search Results.
- Are there transnational cross-diasporic connections in the circulation of the Bade Cakir issue?
- More specifically, in which ways are the German and Dutch Turkish diaspora connected in the issue of Bade Cakir?
- Is the issue still circulating in cross-diasporic spaces after its initial peak?
In the exploration of the Bade Cakir issue, we chose the issue mapping method that allowed for a variety of platforms to be investigated.
First of all, we started from the Hollanda Türk Gönüllüler Vakfı Facebook page (page ID 752828048195495) which represents the Facebook page of the Turkse vrijwilligers Stichting foundation made as a legacy of Bade Cakir case. We used the Netvizz tool, a tool that extracts data from different sections of the Facebook platform for research purposes. In this case we chose the page like network query so that we can explore the (transnational) connectivity of the page. The file output was analysed in Gephi.
Secondly, starting from the first netvizz query, we did a second page like network analysis of the page Bade icin bir iyilik - bir ilik (page ID 1546625252320085), a page dedicated only to the call for stem cell donations done in January 2016. The reason behind this choice was the local dimension of the first network and we wanted to verify the findings suggesting the locality of the issue.
Thirdly, we explored the first 10 Google Search Results from four different google domains: google.com, google.nl, google.com.tr, and google.de. We further build lists containing the domain name, the hyperlinks and the time stamps of the articles featured.
The data set was analysed with the use of the Triangulation tool that allowed us to look at the frequency of the hyperlinks between the different domains. This aspect was intended to reveal possible ties and connections between the Turkish Dutch diaspora and the Turkish German one with regards to the Bade Cakir issue, more specifically the commonalities of the hyperlinks that were the most popular in the Google ranking.
Additionally, all the hyperlinks were inputed in the netvizz feature Link Stats which provides statistics for links shared on Facebook.
In the network analysis and visualisation of the FB page Hollanda Türk Gönüllüler Vakfı with the page like network query, starting from the page itself, we obtained a visualisation of 17 pages on Facebook (see Fig.1), with every node a page and every edge an action of “liking.” After using the Force Atlas 2 algorithm and set the color of the nodes by modularity, we obtained three main clusters coloured as follows: blue (9 nodes), orange (5 nodes) and green (3 nodes). The blue cluster contains Facebook pages of different businesses and commercial services located mainly in Rotterdam. The orange cluster contains pages that concern directly the Turkish community from the Netherlands (social and political issues, media). The smallest cluster, the green one is the cluster concentrated around the issue of humanitarian support and local media. The size of the node is given by the degree attribute, meaning that the nodes’ size is proportional with the number of links they have.
Considering the initial hypothesis of the research – the cross-diasporic connections of the Turkish diaspora - both the size of the network as well as the size of the local Rotterdam cluster show a strong community based involvement in the circulation of the Bade Cakir case on Facebook. Also, it is relevant to notice the ethnic nucleus of the network, all the nodes being related in one way or another with the Turkish Dutch community, showing thus that the Turkse vrijwilligers Stichting foundation acts mostly within the Netherlands and concerns still only the Turkish community. Lastly, the only tie to the German community is given by the presence in the network of the Knochenmark für den kleinen Kerim - Kücük Kerime ilik araniyor (page ID 1041272279245010), a similar case to the Bade Cakir one, from the Turkish German community. Although not representative, considering that the Turkse vrijwilligers Stichting foundation is active since March 2016, this connectivity could be followed in the future, for a period of time in order to account for its development.
Figure 1, page like network of FB page Hollanda Türk Gönüllüler Vakfı
Additionally, a preliminary investigation of the page stats via Netvizz page data was done for the last 100 posts of the page and of the fans. The output file “fans per country” was analysed and visualised in Tableau (see Fig. 2) and showed a connection with people from other countries than the Netherlands (which nevertheless was dominating). Out of the total of 6167 fans (on July 1, 2016), 78% (4842) are from the Netherlands, Turkey almost 10% (594), 4% (264) Germany, 4% (240) Belgium and in a smaller percentage, 2%, France, Austria, Denmark, Great Britain. This can be a further exploration of cross-diasporic connections on Facebook, via the Turkse vrijwilligers Stichting Facebook page (Hollanda Türk Gönüllüler Vakfı) (see visualisation 4).
Figure 2, Facebook,fans per country for Hollanda Türk Gönüllüler Vakfı
In the network analysis and visualisation of the FB page Bade icin bir iyilik - bir ilik with the page like network query, starting from the page itself, we obtained a visualisation of 1469 pages on Facebook (see Fig. 3), with every node a page and every edge an action of “liking.” After using the Force Atlas 2 algorithm and set the color of the nodes by modularity, we obtained 3 main clusters: the blue one (602 nodes), the green one (390 nodes) and the red one (477 nodes). The size of the node is given by the degree attribute, meaning that the nodes’ size is proportional with the number of links they have.
At a closer look at the clusters, no specific thematic differentiation can be seen. A Dutch sub-cluster can be observed in the blue cluster. Nevertheless, the group does not contain a majoritarian number of Dutch-Turkish pages. The main node from this cluster which also connects the cluster to the two others is represented by the page Tied together – Bracelets for you and hospitalized kids, a page made by a young Dutch woman. The whole network is quite transnational, centred around the theme of sick children, most of the pages being causes for particular cases or different humanitarian NGOs. It can be interpreted that within the bigger network the specific issue of Bade Cakir loses its diasporic and ethnic dimension and gets lost in the broader theme of sick children. Thus, it can be remarked that the issue of Bade Cakir did not really circulate transnationally via this specific Facebook page, its main transnational connection being mediated by a humanitarian discourse around the bigger theme of children suffering incurable diseases. The transnational connections are therefore built upon “humanitarian ties,” asking for community support. This aspect could be interestingly further explored as to see the larger discourses that circulate around the theme.
Figure 3. Page like network of FB page Bade icin bir iyilik - bir ilik
In the third step of the research we build a list containing the first 10 hyperlinks of Google Search Results from 4 different domains: google.com, google.nl. google.com.tr, google.de. The main scope was to explore the different ways in which the issue of Bade Cakir circulated on the one hand in the Turkish Dutch e-diaspora and the Turkish German e-diaspora, and on the other hand in the homeland.
The data set was inputed in the Triangulation tool in order to see the frequency of the hyperlinks and the commonalities between the different domains (see Fig.3). Once the data was outputted, two main things relevant for the research were observed:
Firstly, it can be observed that the most number of unique hyperlinks belong to the Dutch domain, suggesting once again the locality and community base of the issue. Time wise also, most of the articles were posted online in the period of January 23-26 2016, suggesting a higher visibility around the time the call for stem cell donation was made. Secondly, it can be observed that the highest number of common hyperlinks is between the Turkish and the German domain. Also, time wise, the articles were also posted around the same period of time – February 24-26, 2016 around the time the girl passed away. Additionally, it can be noticed that the majority of the hyperlinks that appear in the German domain are .com.tr hyperlinks, that is the Turkish Google domain. All these correlated suggest a stronger connection between the Turkish German diaspora and the homeland, rather than a cross diasporic connectivity between the Turkish diaspora from the Netherlands and Germany. Although contradicting the original hypothesis of the research, this finding confirms the central role of the homeland in the coagulation of the diaspora as discussed in the diaspora literature. This aspect is useful for a further conceptualization of the e-diaspora that can incorporate the homeland’s active role in its mobilization/engagement. Lastly, looking once again at the time stamps of the first 10 Google Search Results, it can be seen that the issue reached a peak in the month of January 2016 in the case the Netherlands, and in the month of February 2016 in the case of Turkey and Germany, suggesting that the issue is not currently being engaged with.
Figure 4. Triangulation of Google search results, color by frequency
With regards to the way in which all the hyperlinks were inputed in the netvizz feature Link Stats which provides statistics for links shared on Facebook. From all the hyperlinks collected from the four domains, the top 3 most shared ones are as follows:
We can observe that the first 2 most shared hyperlinks are Dutch media websites supporting further on the Dutch dominance of the issue on Facebook.
The circulation of the Bade Cakir issue on Facebook, via the Turkse vrijwilligers Stichting Facebook page (Hollanda Türk Gönüllüler Vakfı) mobilized more local actors - from the Netherlands and specifically from the city of Rotterdam - suggesting a community based connectivity. The issue had little transnational connectivity and cross-diasporic ties.
When the issue was observed in a larger transnational network starting from the Facebook page Bade icin bir iyilik - bir ilik (the call for stem cell donations), it was dissipated in a larger thematic representation around children diagnosed with terminal diseases and/or different causes and organizations that have a humanitarian outlook. Therefore, the ethnic and diasporic dimensions are absent from the larger network.
Nevertheless, a weak tie with Germany can be observed in the first network of Facebook pages, with a node representing a similar cause for a Turkish German child. Considering the relative little time since the foundation Turkse Vrijwilligers Stichting started to be active, a further analysis can be done on a longer period of time. This can account for the dynamicity and evolution of the activities of the foundation as well as for the ways in which cross diasporic ties can be mediated and enhanced by digital technologies and platforms.
In exploring the issue of Bade Cakir on the web, via the Google Search Results, it was revealed the important role of the homeland in the circulation of the issue cross-diasporically. This aspect confirms the literature take on the important role of the homeland in the mobilization and consolidation of diasporas and directs the research towards new ways of study e-diasporas that account also for the involvement of the homeland.
Firstly, the visualization of the page like network starting from the Turkse vrijwilligers Stichting Facebook page (Hollanda Türk Gönüllüler Vakfı) showed the locality of the actors involved. It would be interesting to further investigate what are the discourses that circulate on the page with regards to posts and also what type of interaction it has with its fans. This extra layer could offer more depth to the analysis regarding the role the foundation has inside the Turkish Dutch diaspora. Studying the page on a longer timeline, like argued earlier, can offer insights to the ways in which cross diasporic ties can be mediated and/or enhanced by digital technologies and platforms. Secondly, the revealing of the centrality of the homeland in the circulation of diasporic issues gives important insights with regards to the ways in which different diasporic communities relate to the homelands. In the current case it seems that the homeland it’s an important mediating node in cross-diasporic issue circulation.
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