A two day conference (April 10-11, 2018) 9:30 am – 7:00pm.

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 (Risam, 2017).

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? Due to the increased feminization of migration the gendered analysis is particularly urgent. How do these new technologies help overcome isolation and segregation fostering networks of support and integration for migrant women? How do these networks stretch across different diasporas and how are new forms of transnational citizenship articulated?

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.


Prof. Sandra Ponzanesi

(Visiting Professor, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University/ Professor Gender and Postcolonial Studies, Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

Keynotes (confirmed):

Prof. Arjun Appadurai

(Visiting Professor Institute of European Ethnology, Berlin/ Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication at New York University)

Narrative Panic and the Edges of Europe

Prof. Mirca Madianou

(Reader in Media and Communications, Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)

Title t.b.a.

Confirmed Speakers:

Donya Alinejad

(Utrecht University, Department of Media and Culture Studies, The Netherlands)

Social media and feelings of presence: mobile apps and emotions in a context of transnational and urban mobility

Laura Candidatu

(Utrecht University, Department of Media and Culture Studies, The Netherlands)

Revisiting the “connected migrant.” Diasporic mothering practices and negotiations of belonging in the Romanian diaspora from Amsterdam.

Radhika Gajjala

(Bowling Green State University, School of Media and Communication)

Migration and Mobility in Gendered Indian Digital Social Media Spaces: Revisiting “Ghar and Bahir

Myria Georgiou

(Visiting Scholar Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, USA/London School of Economics, UK)

Post-Brexit London’s and cosmopolitanism at times of crisis

Alex Gil Fuentes

(Columbia University, Digital Center, Butler Library)

“In The Same Boats”: Moving Maps and Cartographies of Intersections 

Inderpal Grewal

(Program Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University)

Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants: Racial logics of digital production.

Radha Hegde

(New York University, Department of Media, Culture and Communication)

Title t.b.a.

Koen Leurs

(Utrecht University, Department of Media and Culture Studies, The Netherlands)

Title t.b.a.

Anne McNevin

(The New School/Politics Department/Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility)

Time, Digital Media, and the Figure of the Migrant

Melis Mevsimler

(Utrecht University, Department of Media and Culture Studies, The Netherlands/ London School of Economics, UK)

Divided nation, divided diaspora: Crossroads of gender and homeland politics in everyday lives of migrant women from Turkey in London

Sandro Mezzadra

(Visiting Professor New School visiting professor Politics Department/University of Bologna, Italy)

The Border Regime as a Black Box? Migration, Logistics, and Digitalization in Europe and Beyond

Claudia Minchilli

(Utrecht University, Department of Media and Culture Studies, The Netherlands)

Somali women in postcolonial Italy: identity construction through digital connectedness.

Frances Negrón-Muntaner

(Columbia University, Department of English and Comparative Literature/Center for Ethnicity and Race)

“The Emptying Island” and the current Puerto Rican migration.

Jonathan Corpus Ong

(University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Department of Communication

Wouter Omen

(Utrecht University, Department of Media and Culture Studies, The Netherlands)

Humanitarian communication, common humanities playground

Ato Quayson

(New York University, English Department)

Modes of the Selfie from Orality to Social Media.

Joost Raessens

(Visiting scholar NYU, Tisch School, Media Lab/Professor Media Theory Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

Refugees Games

Roopika Risam

(Salem State University, Department of English)

Title t.b.a.

Bruce Robbins

(Columbia University, Department of English and Comparative Literature)

Paradox of connectivity and have-not status

Maria Rovisco

(Department of Media and Communication, University of Leicester, UK).

Title t.b.a.

Dennis Tenen

(Columbia University, Department of English and Comparative Literature)

Global Book Piracy as Peer Preservation

Miriam Ticktin

(New School, Department of Anthropology/Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility)

Title t.b.a.