13 April 2018

Special collection published in Social Media + Society

Forced migration and digital connectivity in(to) Europe

© iStockphoto.com
© iStockphoto.com

The Special Collection 'Forced migration and digital connectivity in(to) Europe', published in Social Media + Society  is edited by Dr Koen Leurs (Department of Media and Culture Studies) and Kevin Smets (Vrije Universiteit Brussel).

Impact of digital technologies on forced migration

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.

Dr. Koen Leurs. Foto: Ivar Pel
Dr. Koen Leurs

Shared commitment toward social change

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.