The pandemic has altered the way civic diasporic organizations operate, with a recent rush towards digitized collaborations, activities, and service delivery. These unique multiscalar organizations have been an important part of the lives of residents in large cities across North America in recent decades, particularly in superdiverse migrant receiving neighbourhoods, vis-a-vis physical locations e.g., community centers and offices as well as cross-border places and populations through digital linkages to the diaspora. In the 21st century, diasporic individuals use diverse digital tools to consistently connect to family and relatives overseas. Some of the different uses of digital tools among diasporic individuals and families have been documented in academic literature focused on migration, technology, and mobility. However, the impact of digitization and cyberspace on civic diasporic organizations, particularly within the Canadian metropolitan context where multiculturalism policies and practices have been promoted for decades now, is much less studied.
Within this context, it is a crucial time to better understand the short- and longer-term impact of digitization and cyberspace on the way civic diasporic organizations engage with and serve their beneficiaries. An analysis of the tools and resources required, both human and technological, to best operate in an increasingly digitizing context helps us better understand present challenges and opportunities facing civic diasporic organizations. Moreover, an in-depth exploration of the diversity among civic organizations that exist within superdiverse locales, from local youth-serving agencies to diasporic women’s empowerment groups and everything in between, offers valuable clues into the aspirations and motivations behind the collaborative activities that create civic diasporic organizations.
A decade of work and volunteering with Bangladeshi migrant-led civic initiatives at the neighbourhood level across Toronto has inspired Tahmid’s doctoral research. His research probes the following key questions about civic diasporic organizations, cyberspace, and superdiversity. First, how has digitization impacted the organizational form and function of CDOs? Second, how do CDOs operate in terms of labour and technical processes behind digitization? Third, how do CDOs address economic/occupational and multi-generational socio-cultural challenges in a superdiverse and digitizing context? Tahmid’s research uses a combination of institutional and cyber ethnographic approaches to address the key questions. The specific research methods utilized include digital archival analysis, semi-structured interviews with organizational stakeholders, the researcher’s field diary, and census data analysis.
Tahmid believes that first and second-generation Bangladeshi Canadians in Toronto are an effective yet understudied case study into the aforementioned research questions given their status as a highly educated, highly skilled, and digitally savvy migrant group facing notable socio-economic challenges. When these integration-related challenges persist, the diasporic group based in Toronto has shown a tendency to build and support numerous civic diasporic organizations to mitigate some of the challenges facing them.
Tahmid Rouf is a third-year Ph.D. student in the EUC department specializing in critical human geography. He is interested in issues of diversity, migration, urban life, diaspora, and digital technologies under the broad disciplines of urban, economic, social, cultural, and digital geographies. He also possesses over a decade of non-profit sector experience tackling issues of youth engagement and leadership. From summer-time student internships to executive board seats, he has been involved at various levels of non-profit work at different scales from the local to the international since 2010. He is an Ontario Graduate Scholar who received his M.A in Critical Human Geography and B.B.A from York University.