Lecture Series November 2017: Koen Leurs › view all

"Digital migration imaginaries: Paradoxes of control, (im)mobility, (dis)connectivity and voice(lessness)"

November 29, 2017 - 16:15h/4:15pm
Jacobs University, South Hall, Seminar Room East
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Contact: Audris Umel
Series: Social Sciences Lecture Series
Event type: public

Koen Leurs, Assistant Professor in Gender and Postcolonial studies at the Graduate Gender Program, Department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University, gives a talk on "Digital migration imaginaries: Paradoxes of control, (im)mobility, (dis)connectivity and voice(lessness)" in the BIGSSS Lecture Series 16:15hrs on November 29, 2017. The talk takes place at Jacobs University, South Hall, Seminar Room East.

The event is also part of the BIGSSS Migration and Refugees Studies Group event series!



This lecture unpacks the paradoxical ways in which the increased digital mediatization of migration has been mobilized as an ordering mechanism during the so-called European refugee crisis (2015-2017). Information and communication technologies (ICTs) promise both mobility, connectivity and voice to migrants, and they offer new means of surveillance, control and exclusion of migrants by government officials. Drawing on theorists including Benedict Anderson, Cornelius Castoriadis, Lilie Chouliaraki, Nira Yuval Davis and Charles Taylor, this lecture takes the notion of social imaginaries as a theoretical toolkit to account for the contradictory digital migration imaginaries that shape and impact upon contemporary transnational migration. These naturalized assemblages of meaning and boundary making are co-constituted top-down and bottom-up. Digital migration imaginaries perpetuate structural geographical, gender, racial, age and class hierarchies but also offer room for agentic intervention. They are mobilized by actors including government officials, journalists, scholars, policies and human rights law, hardware and software, algorithmic systems and artists, migrant communities and individual user practices. I will reflect upon 6 processes that shape digital migration imaginaries:  1) Digital migration data as a new means for securitization: migration prevention, management and control, including surveillance of migrant movements through monitoring mobile phone signals at the Mediterranean, predictive analytics on the basis of social media trace data and control through biometric databases; 2). Digital migration as corporate business opportunity: the global industry of surveillance and the industry of migrant connectivity; 3) Voice, transnational connectivity and refugee selfies as digital self-representations; 4) Humanitarian NGO-ization of digital migration: a plethora of digital initiatives have sought to combat the crisis, including SOS phone and apps aimed at showing hospitality, increasing migrant integration and connecting with local volunteers; 5) Digital migration as a site of artistic intervention. 6) Digital migration studies as a new interdisciplinary research paradigm.

About the BIGSSS Lecture Series:

Each semester the Graduate School invites a mix of established and young scholars to present their work to the students and the faculty of the School as well as to the wider interested public. Taking place every other week, the Lecture Series is the central meeting point for the entire Graduate School and provides an excellent opportunity for engaging in intensive, interdisciplinary, scholarly debate.