Seminars & Events

3 June 2024
15:15 - 16:45
Bestuursgebouw 0.33D

Seminar: dr. Koen Leurs – Doing digital migration studies: pluralizing understandings

Abstract: In contemporary discussions on migration, digital technology is often considered as a ‘smart’ disruptive tool used by governments to surveil and protect borders while monitoring the movement of people in more efficient ways. However, the story is more complex. Migration and technology can be said to co-shape one another: migration has become 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, 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.

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