As recently announced, dr. Delia Dumitrica will be a fellow of the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES) at Södertörn University in Sweden. There, she will work on research about the embedding of visual representations of nationhood in urban settings. “I think I’ve always been interested in the question of nationalism, particularly in the question of ideology. How do we come to believe certain things, and take for granted the fact that the world appears to be divided into nations?”
Full of anticipation, Delia explains the focus of the research: “I’m interested in how nations, countries and ethnic groups are visually represented in public spaces. This is an interesting project for me because it is quite creative. I collect data by taking the touristic routes in some of the main cities that I inhabit for a longer period of time. In Rotterdam, I was lucky enough to have an intern from IBCoM helping out with this. We go around the city and take photographs of visual representations of the nation. These are things like flags, references to names of countries, or to names of ethnic groups. Any types of symbols, such as the tulip or wooden shoe in the Netherlands, that are invested with national significance.” Delia will be working on the data that she has collected from Bucharest (Romania), Calgary (Canada), Madrid (Spain), Rotterdam (Netherlands), and, eventually, Stockholm (Sweden).
Always eager to expand her horizons, Delia is currently also working on a different project that concerns nationalism. “In another related project, I am interested in nationalism, globalization and social media. This interest emerged out of my own use of Facebook. I was wondering: what image of the world do I get from my Facebook news feed? I build upon this personal curiosity, questioning how Facebook produces an understanding and image of globalization for me as a user.”
Although these projects might suggest otherwise, nationalism is not Delia’s main research topic. As an Assistant Professor in Political Communication, Delia’s field of expertise lies primarily in civic engagement and new media. A project within this field that Delia is currently involved in is a collaboration with the University of Calgary, funded the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. This project looks at how social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs are being used for civic engagement purposes. “We’re interested primarily in how regular citizens make use of new technologies in order to become politically engaged and motivate others to become engaged as well in order to make a change in their community.”
The importance of the international environment
For Delia, adding an international dimension was key to her academic career. “The opportunity to travel and be part of an international environment has really opened up my intellectual horizons. It changed the way in which I looked at myself and the world. In many ways, being part of an international environment where I could find out about competing national claims had opened up my own perspectives and understanding of these concepts. It made me question what it means to have an ethnic, national and cultural identity.” Based on this experience, Delia would recommend any academic to search for international opportunities and share insights with people from other countries. “There is nothing more fulfilling than being able to help people change their own perspective, the way my own education helped me question things and change my optic.”
Her position at the Department of Media & Communication allows Delia to combine teaching and research – in her opinion, this combination is essential. “I do think that teaching and research go hand in hand, and it is particularly difficult to do one without the other. When you teach, your students ask you questions, and they force you to clarify some of your own ideas and to see the material that you have assigned in a new light. And that is a moment that sparks a research curiosity and interest, a moment that makes you challenge things. Therefore, I cannot see how you can separate them. It is this ability to combine both teaching and doing research that makes me happy.”
Delia will be presenting at quite a few conferences over this spring and summer. “I’m going to be in New York in a couple of weeks presenting at the Association for the Study of Nationalities. I’m part of a panel that looks at nationalism and technology, presenting on a paper that was recently published in Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism. At the end of May, I’m going to be at the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Canada, presenting on both my nationalism and my grassroots engagement projects. In July, I’m going to present at the International Sociological Association in Vienna, as I have two papers over there as well.”
If you’re interested in Delia’s work, here are a number of recommended articles:
Dumitrica, D. (2016). Facebook’s Global Imaginary: The Symbolic Production of the World through Social Media. In Brian Goss, Joan Caranana, and Mary Gould (Eds.). Talking Back to Globalization: Texts, Practices and Interventions (pp. 193-214). New York: Peter Lang.
Dumitrica, D. (2015). Imagining the Canadian Internet: A Case of Discursive Nationalization of Technology. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 15(3): 448 – 473.
Dumitrica, D., Gaden, G. (2015). “The Real Deal”: Strategic Authenticity, Politics and Social Media. First Monday, 20(1),http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4985
Dumitrica, D. (2014). Politics as ‘customer relations’: Social Media and Political Authenticity in the 2010 Municipal Elections in Calgary, Canada. Javnost – The Public, 21(1): 53-70