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Visualizing co‐presence: discourses on transnational family connectivity in ethnic advertising

Global Networks

Published online on


Transnational family members rely on a vast array of strategies to keep in touch with their loved ones scattered in distant places. In this context, providers of mobile phones and money transfer services have quickly identified international migrants as lucrative market niches, producing particular discourses on migrant connectivity through ethnic advertising. In this article, I analyse 30 of these advertisements in Spain from a qualitative and critical perspective in order to explore how they represent migrant management of family relationships at a distance. For this purpose, I articulate transnational family studies with social semiotics of visual communication. My analysis identified the predominance of promises of virtual co‐presence through at least two different strategies – which I called ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ representations of co‐presence – and its conceptual implications for both migrant and non‐migrant subjects.