On 25 February 2021, Sandra Ponzanesi gave an online lecture titled “Digital Belongings. Migration, Digital Practices and the Everyday”. The lecture was the second in NECS online lecture series “Media and Migration”.
The NECS online lecture series consists in five lectures held by scholars working on the topic of media and migration, scheduled on a monthly basis, starting late January 2021. The Online Lecture Series is open to all and is also intended to involve graduate students and early-career researchers in the scientific conversation about media and migration through the prism of methodology and knowledge production. A specific focus on methodology will be common to all lectures and will be articulated in connection to fields as varied as ethnic media, diaspora, migrant audiences, digital technologies and border regimes, as well as postcolonialism and gender. Unlike most current analyses of the relationship between media and migration, this Online Lecture Series will propose a shift from media narratives and the politics of representation to the methodological and epistemic issues related to the study of mediated migration.
Digital Belongings. Migration, Digital Practices and the Everyday
In the second lecture in the series, Sandra Ponzanesi presented “Digital Belongings. Migration, Digital Practices and the Everyday”: “While images of migration and destitution have consistently been spectacularized in the mainstream media, the voices, representations and practices of migrant themselves have often been relegated to alternative channels and reporting outlets, from the press to photography, cinema and social media. At the height of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, the digital passage to Europe has highlighted the savviness and skills of migrants, often digital natives themselves, in resorting to digital media to manage their journey by retrieving information, accessing GPS and routing data, contacting smugglers, carrying out economic transactions, integrating into new forms of governance (Latonero and Kift, 2018; Gillespie et al., 2018; Smets and Leurs, 2018; Paz Alencar, 2018; Georgiou 2019).
However, less attention has been paid to the ‘banal’ ways in which migrants use digital technologies to keep in touch and stay connected with their peers and loved ones, through co-presence and diasporic affiliations that sustain bonds and forms of belonging across space and time (Madianou and Miller, 2012; Boccagni and Baldassar, 2015; Alinjead and Ponzanesi, 2020). Going beyond “high tech orientalism” (Chun, 2006) and “symbolic bordering” (Chouliaraki, 2017), this lecture will focus on the ways in which migrants appropriate and integrate digital technologies in their everyday lives in order to manage their local and transnational networks of belonging as media users, participants and content makers. What kinds of methods and tools would be useful to investigate these practices, keeping in mind affective, ethical and technological dimensions? Why foreground the everyday rather than the newsworthy and the state of exception? What kinds of affordances and platforms do we focus on and how do we facilitate articulation in preference to representation? What kinds of collaborative, creative or mixed methodologies do we review or develop before engaging with research on media and migration?
Drawing from gender, postcolonial studies, digital media and migration this lecture focuses on the various forms of cosmopolitan belongings that cut across borders and media platforms.”