Migration and digitization are fundamental drivers of cultural, societal, political and economic transformation – however we need a better understanding of how these two processes are interrelated. In recent years, the scale, intensity and types of migration and digitization processes have grown significantly across the Globe.
Therefore, Arjun Appadurai recently called on scholars “for renewed attention to the relationship between migrants and mediation” (2019, 1). My focus in this talk will be on how digital migration paradoxically simultaneously creates insiders and outsiders among, within and across people who are forcibly on the move.
The so-called European Refugee Crisis (’15-16) has resulted a proliferation of research on digital migration, resulting in greater understandings, but also showing knowledge gaps and raising considerable theoretical, methodological and ethical challenges. Digital migration scholarship is for example generally produced within the confines of disciplinary silos, it is skewed towards Europe and the United States. Moreover, scholars commonly take top-down perspectives, focusing on the roles of institutions and organizations.
Little attention is paid to the bottom-up: how do forced migrants draw on digital media to make do or contest living in challenging migration infrastructures? In addition, studies commonly single out specific actors and contexts in their studies, the interrelations between and across stakeholders present another gap in the scholarship.
I will explore further in the lecture how I seek to provide an initial answer to these concerns in my current book project titled Digital Migration by:
1). highlighting the relationships between involved stakeholders to acknowledge how top-down forces and bottom-up experiences together shape digital migration;
2). drawing comparisons across space and time, by demonstrating how digitization co-shapes migration across geo-political locations, and how contemporary digital migration builds on historical lineages.
3). Establishing the interdisciplinary common ground of digital migration across scholarly fields, and pointing out the points of divergence in academic specialization;
4). acknowledging the pros and cons of both large-scale and small-scale methodological empirical approaches in digital migration, in light of community-centered research ethics.