Sunday, June 24, 2018


Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: Paradoxes of Connectivity and Belonging

In April 2018, a two-day international conference was held at Columbia University, hosted by the Heyman Center for the Humanities. The event was made possible through co-sponsorship by many units at Columbia University, including the Division of Humanities and the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and other universities in NYC (NYU-MCC and New School-Zolberg Institute) along with European partners. The conference, entitled “Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: Paradoxes of Connectivity and Belonging,” brought together many international scholars who have been working at the intersection of media and migration for many years from an interdisciplinary and international perspective. The conference was opened with words of welcome by the Dean of Humanities Sarah Cole. The organizer Sandra Ponzanesi introduced the themes and goals of the conference and highlighted the major strands of the seven panels and closing two keynote addresses. READ THE FULL REPORT HERE



Columbia University
The Heyman Center for the Humanities

Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: Paradoxes of Connectivity and Belonging

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - Wednesday, April 11, 2018



Sandra Ponzanesi
  •  Visiting Professor, Department of English and Comparative LiteratureColumbia University/Professor Gender and Postcolonial Studies, Utrecht University.

Keynote Speakers

Arjun Appadurai
  • Paulette Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University 
Mirca Madianou
  • Professor in the Department of Media and Communications Goldsmiths, University of London
Check the full list of speakers here

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.
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?
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.
For more info e-mail Sandra Ponzanesi:
Or follow the link updates on the programme and schedule:

The conference is a collaboration between Columbia University, Heyman Center for the Humanities, and the ERC project ConnectingEurope and other co-sponsors (Columbia University, Division of Humanities, New York University, The New School, IRWGS, Council for European Studies etc..)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Fourth Annual ACGS Conference - Amsterdam 26-27 October 2017

Postcolonial Mediations: Globalisation and Displacement


Keynote speakers

  • Victoria Bernal (Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine, US)
  • Paula Chakravartty (Associate Professor Media, Culture and Communication, New York University, New York, US)
  • Iain Chambers (Professor of Cultural and Postcolonial Studies, Oriental University, Naples, Italy)


Postcolonial Mediations

Postcolonial thinking has challenged the stability of discourses on culture, globalisation, economics, human rights and politics. Postcolonial thinking, as a form of mediation and displacement of worldviews, triggered a re-evaluation of the complex connections between culture, class, economy, gender and sexuality. This conference aims to engage with such postcolonial displacements.

Displacement can be seen under the rubric of mobility and its many forms today, most tellingly discernible in the forced movements of peoples in the wake of wars, and the concomitant crises this provokes around issues of “culture and civilization”, and its gendered, religious and raced dimensions. The refugee crisis in Europe is an important case in point. Cultural productions from the non-West continue to displace received understandings of other cultures and societies (Chow, 2002, Narayan, 1997) while contemporary political movements draw inspiration from postcolonial struggles as they deploy new media forms, as Howard Caygill (2013) has recently shown in his analyses of the Gandhian non-violence movement, the continuing Maoist rebellions and their relation to the Zapatistas and the Indignados. The shifting contours of gender and sexual politics, and the critique of stable identities provoked by queer politics and theory, are also producing displacements, in the discourse and practice of the politics of rights. Local, regional and national politics often challenge universal rights claims. e.g. the controversies around the relevance of “Global Queer” (Altman, 1996).

The postcolonial is understood here simultaneously as a mediating and a displacing series of interventions, which demands engagement with contemporary understandings of globalisation.

for more information about the programme see here


Sudeep Dasgupta (University of Amsterdam), John Nguyet Erni (Hong Kong Baptist University), Aniko Imre (University of Southern California), Jeroen de Kloet (University of Amsterdam), Sandra Ponzanesi (Utrecht University), Raka Shome (National University of Singapore)


University Theatre

Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16-18 | 1012 CP Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 525 2997

Thursday, September 28, 2017

PCI Screening/talk: Tabita Rezaire - Decolonial trinity: technologies of the spiritual, erotic and politic

In this PCI screening/talk on October 5 we have the great honor and privilege to have with us the artist Tabita Rezaire, who will introduce, show and discuss her video work for an hour, followed by a 30 minutes Q&A session. We end with drinks.

The session is titled Decolonial trinity: technologies of the spiritual, erotic and politic.

This event is co-organized by Koen Leurs and Domitilla Olivieri from the Graduate Gender Programme / Netherlands Research School ofGender Studies with Michiel De Lange from the New Media & Digital culture Program, under heading of the the Postcolonial Studies Initiative and Co.laborations, the Expertise Centre of Utrecht University's Department of Media and Culture, and in dialogue with the Impakt festival.

Kindly RSVP to this Facebook event to let us know you are coming.

Practical information:
Thursday October 5, 17.00-18.30.
theaterzaal, Parnassos
Kruisstraat 201
3581 GK Utrecht

Tabita Rezaire (b.1989, Paris) is a French - of Guyanese and Danish descent - video artist, health-tech-politics practitioner and Kemetic/ Kundalini Yoga teacher based in Johannesburg. She holds a Bachelor in Economics (Paris) and a Master in Artist Moving Image from Central Saint Martins College (London). Rezaire’s practices unearth the possibilities of decolonial healing through the politics of technology. Navigating architectures of power - online and offline - her work tackles the pervasive matrix of coloniality and its affects on identity, technology, sexuality, health and spirituality. Through screen interfaces, her digital healing activism offers substitute readings to dominant narratives decentering occidental authority, while her energy streams remind us to resist, (re)connect, and remember.

Rezaire is a founding member of the artist group NTU, half of the duo Malaxa, and mother of the energy house SENEB.
In 2017, she presented her first solo show Exotic Trade at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. Artsy declared her among the ‘emerging artists to watch for in 2017’, Artnet among the ‘international Black artists of 2016’, and True Africa amid the ‘top opinion makers of the African continent in 2015’. Rezaire has shown her work internationally – V&A London, National Gallery of Denmark, Berlin Biennale, Tate Modern London, Museum of Modern Art Paris, MoCADA NY, The Broad LA and presented her work on numerous panels – Het Nieuwe Institut Rotterdam, Royal Academy The Hague, Kunsthalle Bern, National Gallery Harare, Cairotronica Cairo, Fakugezi Digital Art Africa Johannesburg. She has curated screenings at the Institute of Contemporary Art London, led spiritual technology workshops worldwide and has her writing published by Intellect books.
 In 2016, Tabita was a resident at the Utrecht Impakt festival, see

Rezaire lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. See