ICA San Diego 2017 with Sandra Ponzanesi and Koen Leurs (25-29 May, San Diego)

Sandra Ponzanesi and Koen Leurs presented at the panel “Connected/Disconnected Refugee and Migrants: Digitality, Affectscapes, Mobility, and Place,” which took place on the 26th of May. The theme for the 67th Annual International Communication Associations Conference was Interventions: Communication Research and Practice.

Ponzanesi’s presentation proposed to investigate whether digital technologies enhance European integration or foster gender and ethnic segregation. It aims to do so by analyzing how different forms of migrations (postcolonial, labor, refugee) impact upon and redefine the historical and imaginary boundaries of Europe. In particular it focuses on how migrant women who moved to Europe’s main cities use digital technologies in their everyday life in order to get integrated in the hosting countries but also to stay affectively connected to their ethnic groups and their homeland countries left behind. The presentation proposes therefore to see how these affectscapes link the local to the transnational trespassing traditional notions of boundaries and identities. Focusing on everyday digitized practices allows for a more complex, yet realistic, assessment of how gender and racial presence, agency and emancipation are rearticulated beyond the current deterministic debate of public versus private, inclusion and exclusion, agency and tradition.

Koen Leurs presented together with Tamara Shepherd from the University of Calgary. They questioned the workings of Europe from the perspective of human (im)mobility, datafied discrimination and transnational digital connectivity. The focus was on top-down strategies of migration management through datafied discrimination and bottom-up tactics of European re-imagination through transnational connectivity. 

First Leurs and Shepherd argued that fortress Europe presents a particularly relevant context to study datafied discrimination because its contemporary practices of social sorting at the border show lingering traces of colonial-era human classification, measurement, and ordering, which were pioneered and mastered on subject populations in its peripheral territories throughout the last centuries. Secondly we will argue social media use among young migrants present us with a unique view on how Europe is re-imagined from below: transnational migrants stake out a living across borders while simultaneously using social media as a postcolonial contact zone by engaging in intercultural exchanges with local others. 

Ponzanesi also presented at the panel “Bodies Claiming or Being Thrown Up Into Public Spaces: Digital Mediations of Gender and Subalternity” on the 29th of May. Sandra presented: Refugees Reloaded: Digital Images and Circuits of Resistance.

Read the abstract here.