Monday, June 18, 2012

Digital Crossroads: Media, Migration and Diaspora in a Transnational Perspective


28-30 June, 2012
Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Because of the disjunctive and unstable interplay of commerce, media, national policies, and consumer fantasies, ethnicity, once a genie contained in the bottle of some sort of locality (however large), has now become a global force, forever slipping in and through the cracks between states and borders – Appadurai 1996, p. 41, Modernity at Large

Keynote speakers:

Shakuntala Banaji
London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Kirsten Drotner
University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Radhika Gajjala
Bowling Green State University, USA
Eva Lam
University of Northwestern, USA
Lisa Nakamura
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA
Liesbet van Zoonen
Loughborough University, UK and Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands

The rapid development of digital technologies has radically transformed ways of keeping in touch with home cultures and diasporic networks. Moreover, the notion of migration has undergone significant shifts, coming to signify imaginaries on the move which are not necessarily linked to geographical displacement. The aim of this conference is to address the relationship between migration and digital technologies across national contexts and ethnic belonging. Migrancy embeds many of the local and global paradoxes that also pertain to digital media with their compression of space and time. However, the link between the two fields is still under-theorized and in need of more situated and comparative analysis. Drawing from approaches from the humanities and social sciences (media theory, communication studies, learning sciences, gender studies, cultural studies, postcolonial theory, migration and transnational studies, among others), the primary aim of this conference is to explore how the study of digitalization and migration challenges existing notions of diaspora, identity, nation, family, learning, literacy, social networks, youth, body, gender and ethnicity, asking for new approaches and a rethinking of traditional social and cultural categories. 

The conference will consider the following questions, among others: 
How has the development of new digital technologies changed the experience of migration? Conversely, how has the reality of migration impacted on the use, development and distribution of new media technologies? How does the use of media differ among different migrant generations? How does media literacy impact on issues of integration and socialization in a hosting country? What are the differences in media access, diffusion and use among different migrant communities across the world? How are race, gender, age, class, ethnicity and other markers of identity recodified online? How are transnational relationships and resources arrayed in networks? How do ideas and practices move across these networks? How is the notion of home or community, which is no longer locatable with a “here” and “there” reconceptualised through digital diasporas? How do these developments impact on the spaces for learning and education, which are no longer limited to place-based classrooms and curricula? How can learning processes and networks be conceptualised when these networks expand larger geographical distances, and multiple communities are crossed? What resources of identity do migrants draw on and how are these resources hybridized in practice, and related to their learning and socialization processes? In short, how are digital crossroads created, distributed and experienced in the context of migration, diaspora and transnationalism?

The conference comes at the end of a five-year High Potential project, entitled “Wired Up: Digital media as innovative socialization practices for migrant youth”, carried out by the Faculty of Humanities (project leader Dr. Sandra Ponzanesi) and the Faculty of Social Sciences (project leader Prof. Dr. Mariette de Haan) at Utrecht University in collaboration with Vanderbilt University, USA (Dr. Kevin Leander, Peabody College for Education). The project was funded by the Executive Board of Utrecht University to stimulate interdisciplinary research. See

Dr Sandra Ponzanesi

Fadi Hirzalla

Scientific committee 
Prof Dr Mariette de Haan
Dr Kevin Leander

Conference committee
Dr Koen Leurs
Asli Unlusoy, Msc
Dr Lisa Schwartz
Dr Fleur Prinsen