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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Centre for Journalism and Mediastudies

CMJS Lunch Lecture - KOEN LEURS (Utrecht University): 'Doing digital migration studies: pluralizing understandings'

When:We 12-06-2024 12:00 - 13:00
Where:Collaboratory A, Harmonie building

This is a Lunch Lecture of the Centre for Media and Journalist Studies.


In contemporary discussions on migration, digital technology is often considered as a ‘smart’ disruptive tool used by governments to surveill and protect borders while monitoring the movement of people in more efficient ways. However, the story about is more complex. Migration and technology can be said to co-shape one another: migration is a site of technological innovation, and migration is deeply digitally mediated.  Koen Leurs, in his recent book Digital Migration (Sage, 2023), and open access volume Doing digital migration studies (co-edited with Sandra Ponzanesi, Amsterdam University Press, 2024) draws out the complex, multilayered relationship between migration and digital technologies.

Using an inter-disciplinary approach and covering case studies from the Global North as well as the Global South, Koen Leurs seeks to draw out the contradictions, tensions and hopes that characterize digital migration dynamics. From the critical role that digital infrastructures play in migration management to migrants’ use of devices, platforms and networks to connect and thrive, from the power of digital representations of migrants (and how these can be contested), pre-digital histories to the emotional realities of transnational families, Leurs invites scholars to pluralize understandings of migration and mobility in our contemporary world.

In his talk, Koen Leurs will address commitments and challenges of doing digital migration studies. He will draw on examples from a recent Universities of the Netherlands, Digital Society + Commit/ funded study on the screening of smartphones of asylum seekers at the Dutch borders as well as a comparison of the state-led propaganda operation ‘Filmstichting West Indië’ and migrant-led community media productions of ‘Vereniging Ons Suriname’ in 1940s and 1950s Netherlands to alert us to pre-digital interrelationships between regimes of mobility and representation .

About the speaker

Koen Leurs is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Culture, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.