Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: Paradoxes of Connectivity and Belonging

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - Wednesday, April 11, 2018 The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

The image of Syrian refugees with a smartphone shooting ‘selfies’ upon reaching dry land has captured the international imagination (Chouliaraki, 2017; Kunstman, 2017; Risam, forthcoming 2018). It suggests an image of the ‘connected migrant’ (Diminescu, 2008), which is shaped by a profound ambivalence: migrants are expected to be people fleeing from war, violence, and poverty; they are not expected to be ‘digital natives’, equipped with technologies to navigate their difficult journeys. While smartphones are accessible, affordable, and easy to use, in the realm of the public imaginary the image of the disenfranchised and disconnected migrant remains that of the ‘have nots’, and therefore subject to ‘high tech orientalism’ (Chun, 2006, p. 73). This posits the figuration of the migrant as outside the realm of development and modern forms of communication, disenfranchised and vulnerable in order to be worthy of international aid and pity (Boltanski, 20000; Ticktin, 2008). And yet smartphones are ubiquitous, and migrants have been early adopters and heavy users of technologies for the simple reason that these technologies are ingrained in their daily practices and everyday lives, which often involve perilous crossings but also the need to keep in touch with the home front and their diasporic communities. The promise of connectivity that is guaranteed even under duress becomes fraught with the profound disconnection brought about by the disciplining gaze of Western media and publics.

It is, therefore, crucial to focus on the specific way in which digital technologies bridge or magnify the gap in migration between geographical distance and digital proximity. How are affect, intimacy, and belonging negotiated online in the face of forced migration and expulsions (Sassen, 2012) but also of circular migration, expatriation, and transnational movements?

This conference aims to cover a broad range of conflict-related issues on migration in a digital age. Using the latest insights from a range of interdisciplinary fields, it will explore theories of displacement such as diaspora, cosmopolitanism, and nomadism, and the transformations brought about by the digital revolution, through the analysis of virtual communities, social media platforms, and digital activism. It will also focus on media production and the regulation of information on forced migrants in a ‘post-truth’ era: fake news; the humanitarianism-securitization nexus, migration management, social and political conflicts related to migrant and diaspora communities, radicalization and online counter-terrorism, hate speech and racism, but also solidarities, activism, and protest.

For more info e-mail Sandra Ponzanesi: [email protected]

Participants

  • Keynote Speaker

    Arjun Appadurai

    Paulette Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication

    New York University

  • Keynote Speaker

    Mirca Madianou

    Professor in the Department of Media and Communications

    Goldsmiths, University of London

  • Speaker

    Donya Alinejad

    Researcher in the Department of Media and Culture Studies

    Universiteit Utrecht

  • Speaker

    Laura Candidatu

    PhD Candidate

    Universiteit Utrecht

  • Speaker

    Radhika Gajjala

    Professor in the Department of Media and Communications

    Bowling Green State University

  • Speaker

    Myria Georgiou

    Associate Professor

    London School of Economics and Political Science

  • Speaker

    Alex Gil

    Digital Scholarship Coordinator, Humanities and History Division of the Libraries

    Columbia University

  • Speaker

    Inderpal Grewal

    Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and of American Studies

    Yale University

  • Speaker

    Radha Hegde

    Professor of Media, Culture and Communication

  • Speaker

    Koen Leurs

    Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Culture Studies

    Universiteit Utrecht

  • Speaker

    Anne McNevin

    Associate Professor of Politics

    The New School

  • Speaker

    Melis Mevsimler

    PhD Candidate

    Universiteit Utrecht

  • Speaker

    Sandro Mezzadra

    Associate Professor of Political Theory

    Visiting Professor at The New School

  • Speaker

    Claudia Minchilli

    PhD Candidate

    Universiteit Utrecht

  • Speaker

    Frances Negrón-Muntaner

    Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature

    Columbia University

  • Speaker

    Jonathan Corpus Ong

    Associate Professor of Global Digital Media

    University of Massachusetts, Amherst

  • Speaker

    Wouter Oomen

    PhD Candidate

    Universiteit Utrecht

  • Speaker

    Ato Quayson

    Professor of English

    New York University

  • Speaker

    Joost Raessens

    Chair of Media Theory

    Universiteit Utrecht

  • Speaker

    Roopika Risam

    Assistant Professor of English

    Salem State University

  • Speaker

    Bruce Robbins

    Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities

    Columbia University

  • Speaker

    Maria Rovisco

    Lecturer in Media and Communication

    University of Leicester

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