71st ICA Conference, Denver. May 27-31, 2021.
“71st International Communication Association Conference” – Online – 27-31 May 2021. Samira Ibnelkaïd’s video presentation “Caring From Afar: Video Interaction As A Safe Heterotopia?” will be available on the conference platform (written chat for discussion) from 27 to 31/05/21.
With the 2020 global pandemic, digital devices are regarded as a panacea; they have become a way to interact safely, to care from afar. In this paper we aim to address the issue of caring from a distance through the use of video interaction as a safe heterotopia. To further understand the on-screen display of caring we have gathered data of video calls amongst French friends and family members from various generations during the 2020 global pandemic. Our research methodology draws on an interdisciplinary approach and resorts to visual ethnography, to multimodal interaction analysis, and to phenomenology. Our multidimensional approach reveals that screens appear not be completely open spaces anyone can access unconditionally. There is, on the contrary, almost a ritual to it. In the present research we observed the symbolic journey it can be to get from one’s topia to the screen’s heterotopia through what we identified as an intertopia. Indeed, heterotopias do not exist by themselves, they do not arise ex nihilo. They are rather verbally and techno-bodily co-enacted by individuals. Therefore, those intertwined spaces require them to foster a digital literacy developing the technical, cognitive, socio-affective and bodily skills needed in order to interact, create, learn, work and fully partake in the socio-digital world.