Young connected migrants


Special Collection “Forced migration and digital connectivity in(to) Europe”, published in Social Media + Society

The Special Collection “Forced migration and digital connectivity in(to) Europe”, published in Social Media + Society  is edited by Koen Leurs (UU) and Kevin Smets (Vrije Universiteit Brussel).


Digital migration has emerged as a contentious topic during the recent so-called “European refugee crisis.” The wide circulation of news images of smartphone carrying Syrian refugees, and Syrian refugees taking selfies upon their safe arrival on European shores became resources for various actors in Europe to imagine themselves and their relation to incoming others. Digital technologies have been mobilized and imagined in contrasting ways by different groups of state actors: for example, as a way of understanding contemporary migration, as a way to control mobility, as a way to attack it, as a way to esthetically capture it, and as a way to uncover agency. Focusing on the context of Europe, this special collection of Social Media + Society seeks to historicize, contextualize, empirically ground, and conceptually reflect on the impact of digital technologies on forced migration.

We position our intervention in response to the recent upsurge of popular and emerging academic debate on refugees and digital technologies, and it is our specific ambition to recover and foreground again a shared commitment toward social change, equity, and social justice. By reflecting on what is specific about digital connectivity and refugee experiences but also by acknowledging parallels with other communities, we plea for reflexive politics of knowledge production on digital migration. This emerging research focus which seeks to understand the relation between migration and digital media technologies can be labeled digital migration studies.

The collection consists of 14 pieces authored by 27 collaborators: alongside our introduction, there are 10 original research papers included, as well as 3 thematic book reviews that include a Q&A dialogue with the authors of the reviewed books. Authors draw on online and offline fieldwork and empirical data covering various forced migrant communities including Syrians, Somalis, Palestinians, Tamils, and Iraqis across contexts including Austria, France, Germany, Sweden, Somalia, the Netherlands, and Turkey

In the introductory essay titled ‘Five questions for digital migration studies: Learning from forced migration and digital connectivity in(to) Europe, we elaborate digital migration as a developing field of research. Taking the exceptional attention for digital mediation within the recent so-called “European refugee crisis” as a starting point, we reflect on the main conceptual, methodological and ethical challenges for this emerging field and how it is taking shape through interdisciplinary dialogues and in interaction with policy and public debate. Our discussion is organized around central questions: (1) Why Europe? (2) Where are the field and focus of digital migration studies? (3) Where is the human in digital migration? (4) Where is the political in digital migration? and (5) How can we de-center Europe in digital migration studies? Alongside establishing common ground between various communities of scholarship, we plea for non-digital-media-centric-ness and foreground a commitment toward social change, equity and social justice.

Five Questions for Digital Migration Studies: Learning From Digital Connectivity and Forced Migration In(to) Europe
Koen Leurs and  Kevin Smets. March 2018.
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The Mediation of Hope: Digital Technologies and Affective Affordances Within Iraqi Refugee Households in Jordan
Mirjam A. Twigt. March 2018.
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Anti-refugee Mobilization in Social Media: The Case of Soldiers of Odin
Mattias Ekman. March 2018.
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The Ambivalent Potentials of Social Media Use by Unaccompanied Minor Refugees
Nadia Kutscher and Lisa-Marie Kreß. March 2018.
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Syrian Refugees and the Digital Passage to Europe: Smartphone Infrastructures and Affordances
Marie Gillespie, Souad Osseiran, Margie Cheesman. March 2018.
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Smart Refugees: How Syrian Asylum Migrants Use Social Media Information in Migration Decision-Making
Rianne Dekker, Godfried Engbersen, Jeanine Klaver, Hanna Vonk. March 2018.
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The Best, the Worst, and the Hardest to Find: How People, Mobiles, and Social Media Connect Migrants In(to) Europe
Maren Borkert, Karen E. Fisher, Eiad Yafi. March 2018.
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On Digital Passages and Borders: Refugees and the New Infrastructure for Movement and Control
Mark Latonero, Paula Kift. March 2018.
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Refugees and Network Publics on Twitter: Networked Framing, Affect, and Capture
Eugenia Siapera, Moses Boudourides, Sergios Lenis, Jane Suiter. March 2018.
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Connected Routes: Migration Studies with Digital Devices and Platforms
Natalia Sánchez-Querubín, Richard Rogers. March 2018.
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Rerouting the Narrative: Mapping the Online Identity Politics of the Tamil and Palestinian Diaspora
Priya Kumar. March 2018.
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Book review: Social media in Southeast Turkey: Love, kinship and politics
Kevin Smets. March 2018.
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Book review: Media, diaspora and the Somali conflict
Ilse van Liempt. March 2018.
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Book review: Mobile commons, migrant digitalities and the right to the city
Leila Whitley. March 2018.
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All articles are freely available in open-access format.