CROWDFUNDING IN REMOTE CONFLICTS: BOUNDING THE HYPERCONNECTED BATTLEFIELDS
Keywords:crowdfunding, war, participation, boundary objects
Recent political conflicts in Eastern Europe, including the armed conflicts in Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Belarus have demonstrated that the scope of digitally mediated participation in war-related activities goes far beyond the information domain. In this context, a rapidly emerging sociomaterial practice is the use of crowdfunding platforms to provide aid to the conflict-affected military and civilian populations. Situating the inquiry in this empirical context, we ask: how do crowdfunding platforms constitute relationships between spectators and the hyperconnected battlefield, and what is the role of remote human suffering therein? Drawing on data craft, a theory/method package for critical internet studies, we investigate two sets of boundary objects that mediate the connection between zones of conflict and their remote participants. We find that conflict-related crowdfunding is a new form of identity proclamation with regard to the users’ positionality, which creates the conditions of possibility for post-conflict reconstruction and a future after the military conflict. This suggests that representations of distant human suffering are not the only mediators between spectators and the hyperconnected battlefield, adding a new research direction to our understanding of values that drive remote humanitarianism in the digital age.