Call for papers: Rethinking the Relationship between Migration, Media, and Technology in Times of Crises within and beyond the West.


The 21st century has been defined by a series of crises. The 2008-9 financial crisis, the 2014-15 Syrian refugee “crisis”, and crisis in Europe post-Brexit. This period of crisis is profoundly mediated, represented through media technologies and imagined through the spectre of the migrant. In many ways, contemporary migratory movements and digital media technologies are uniquely emergent processes and structures. However, they are indelibly informed by histories of colonization; ecological degradation, political instability, and economic marginalization resulting from histories of colonialism underscore current population displacements. Alternatively, (neo)colonial regimes have facilitated the production and proliferation of digital tools and technologies, which in turn have brought significant changes to migrant mobility and integration processes.


Migration is mediated through digital technologies, media structures, and assemblages. The nexus of media and migration is thus a critical lens to think through themes of representation, nationalism, citizenship, governance, communication, and identity in the 21st century. With this backdrop, this pre-conference examines the dynamics of migration, media, and technology in diverse contexts- multiple temporalities, different spaces, varied subject positions. Questions and themes to consider therefore include: 


• The historical relationship between media, technology, and migration. How have new digital technologies and media forms affected experiences of displacement? Historically, how have both states and migrants utilized media technologies to achieve their aims? What is the genealogy of contemporary and historical representations of migration and migrants?

• The relationship between media texts, technologies, and migrants in the Global South. How are networks and migration engaging in (dis)similar ways in the Global South and the Global North? 

• How are media technologies utilized by migrants in historical and emergent cultural, civic, political, and economic contexts? What roles do media and media technologies play in the integration framework?

• How have states co-opted media technologies to enact new migration and asylum regimes? What are the legacies of historic forms of technological surveillance and how are media technologies deployed to manage and construct new racial and religious divides between citizens and migrants? 

• What is the relationship between data and migration regimes? How is migration and asylum managed by non-state actors and institutions using digital tools and technologies? 

• How do media technologies enable the creation of new subjectivities and communities by migrants? What are the intersections between race, gender, sexual orientation, (im)mobility, digital space and identity and community?

• To what extent and in which ways are media technologies shaping livelihoods among different migrant and refugee groups in both developed and developing regions worldwide?

• How can media, migration and technology scholars contribute to enhancing open communication with and better understanding of global migration issues among the wider public? 

The main purpose of this conference is to provide a space for open dialogue about the ways media technologies are shaping and are shaped by migratory movements and processes, and with the goal to set guidelines for collaborative research on a variety of issues and axes related to migration, media and technologies. Furthermore, it aims to advance our understanding of the role researchers play in promoting open communication strategies and platforms to bridge academic and popular debates on these timely and contentious issues.


Submission process

The organizers invite interested participants to submit abstracts of 500 words (including a selection of references) describing the purpose, theory, method(s), results, and conclusions of the scientific study or social intervention project. We also welcome critical, reflexive and creative submissions that provide an insightful perspective on the topics highlighted in this call.

Please submit 1) a separate title page including the paper's title and author's details (name, title, and institutional affiliation) and 2) an anonymized abstract.


The deadline for submission is 21 February 2020

Acceptance decisions will be announced by 24 February 2020

Please submit your proposals as a PDF file to the following email: pazalencar@eshcc.eur.nl


Expected outcome

A selection of papers presented at this pre-conference will be included in a special issue proposal to a leading Media and Communication Research journal.


Registration Fee

15 USD (the pre-conference will offer food and hot beverages)


Conference venue

ON-SITE - Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (room: to be announced)


Date and time

21st May 2020

From 13:00 to 17:00 (Half-day)

More information will be available once the programme is finalized. 


Organizing Committee – Contact information

Amanda Alencar, Assistant Professor of Media and Migration and Intercultural Communication, Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands). E-mail: pazalencar@eshcc.eur.nl  

Soumia Bardhan, Assistant Professor of Intercultural/International Communication, University of Colorado Denver, USA. E-mail: soumia.bardhan@ucdenver.edu
Lukasz Szulc, Lecturer in Digital Media and Society, Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield. E-mail: l.szulc@sheffield.ac.uk
Radhika Gajjala, Professor, American Culture Studies Program, School of Cultural and Critical Studies and Professor, School of Media and Communication, Bowling Green State University,
Bowling Green, Ohio, USA. E-mail: radhik@bgsu.edu
Emily Edwards, Graduate Assistant CCS, American Cultural Studies, PhD Student, Bowling Green State University. E-mail: eledwar@bgsu.edu