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Mobility, Migration and New Media: Manoeuvring Through Physical, Digital and Liminal Spaces

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Abstract

This special section assembles perspectives on mobilities, migration and new media that emphasise mobile subjects’ multifarious involvements in overlapping digital spheres, which relate them socially and emotionally to both their home and destination countries. In this introduction, we identify two key themes that connect articles in this collection. First, authors accentuate migration and new media appropriation as a process involving liminal spaces characterized by transition, experimentation and tentativeness. Second, they analyse the subtle frictions that derive from migrants’ embeddedness in digital and offline social fields, shot through with power asymmetries that may simultaneously imply empowerment on one hand, and surveillance and control on the other. Authors draw on empirical case studies of transnational migration in foregrounding multiple mobilities within, to or from Asia.
This is the pre-print version of Lim, S. S., Bork-Huffer, T. & Yeoh, B. (2016). Manoeuvring
through Physical and Virtual Spaces: Mobility, Migration and New Media. New Media &
Society,18(10), 2147–2154.
Mobility, migration and new media: Manoeuvring through physical, digital and liminal
spaces
Sun Sun Lim, Tabea Bork-Hüffer and Brenda SA Yeoh
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Abstract
This special section assembles perspectives on mobilities, migration and new media that
emphasise mobile subjects’ multifarious involvements in overlapping digital spheres, which
relate them socially and emotionally to both their home and destination countries. In this
introduction, we identify two key themes that connect articles in this collection. First, authors
accentuate migration and new media appropriation as a process involving liminal spaces
characterized by transition, experimentation and tentativeness. Second, they analyse the
subtle frictions that derive from migrants’ embeddedness in digital and offline social fields,
shot through with power asymmetries that may simultaneously imply empowerment on one
hand, and surveillance and control on the other. Authors draw on empirical case studies of
transnational migration in foregrounding multiple mobilities within, to or from Asia.
Keywords
Asian migrations, liminal spaces, multiple mobilities, power geometries, transnational
migration
Introduction
The migrant’s life is one filled with both promise and precariousness. As migrants venture
beyond their shores in pursuit of opportunities, theirs is often a subjective position of
uncertainty made up of varying degrees of risks, hopes and fears, which are constantly
reworked with growing familiarity at the adopted home. Throughout the entire migration
process, from the point of contemplating the overseas venture, to understanding and even
speaking the patois of the host country, information and communication technologies (ICTs)
play a crucial role in the way migrants negotiate the potential trajectories their overseas
ventures may take. For migrants with ready access to the Internet, websites, blogs, micro-
blogs and discussion forums are an inexhaustible fount of information about the destination
country, and where fellow migrants offer personal experiences and first-hand advice that are
unavailable from official sources. Newer media platforms such as social networking sites
host online migrant communities, facilitating interpersonal connections with virtual strangers
who readily offer advice and assistance, forging an instant safety net for the new migrant.
Likewise, smartphones that can connect swiftly to the Internet enable migrants to tap
location-based services to find their way in an unfamiliar territory and reach out to potential
connections. Upon settling in the host country, the gamut of procedures that besets the
migrant, whether relating to education, employment, healthcare or even basic subsistence,
can be daunting. Connections made in the digital space can again help migrants overcome
the veritable challenges of the physical realm. Indeed, with the emergence of more powerful
This is the pre-print version of Lim, S. S., Bork-Huffer, T. & Yeoh, B. (2016). Manoeuvring
through Physical and Virtual Spaces: Mobility, Migration and New Media. New Media &
Society,18(10), 2147–2154.
networked technologies, the space of flows (Castells, 1998) has been further enriched with
possibility, enabling migrants to navigate their way through unchartered terrain with greater
certainty and confidence. To be sure, virtual scaffolds are not without their shortcomings and
can often exact a toll on the migrant, paradoxical as the effects of technology can be.
The role of ICTs in the shaping of migrant experience has inspired a rich and extensive body
of research. Migrants of diverse profiles have exploited the manifold affordances of ICTs to
forge a sense of personhood and shared identity (Sun and Qiu, 2016), build and sustain
affective ties in both home and host countries, while seeking to improve their prospects in
practical and instrumental ways (Lim et al., 2016). The articles in this special section build on
and enrich this body of work by putting special emphasis on differentiating the subtle,
multifarious ways in which the use of digital media is becoming part of migrants’ lives,
practices and ventures, recognizing that ‘the ways in which places, and social practices,
become enmeshed into geographically and temporally stretched electronic networks such as
the internet is an extraordinarily diverse, contingent process’ (Graham, 2004: 21). This
special section offers a multi-disciplinary perspective on the topic by showcasing research by
communication and media scholars, geographers, sociologists and anthropologists, all
working in the field of mobility, media and the city. It considers how migrant lives are
enhanced but also complicated by new media and how they actively participate in and shape
various digital spaces, further questioning how their online interactions alter the contours of
everyday activities, societal integration, identity formation and emotional bonding as they
straddle home and host countries, or pass through places-in-transit. Case studies highlight
examples of transnational migration within, to or from Asia. They shed light on the role of ICT
use by transnational migrants from various cultural, educational, professional and socio-
economic backgrounds, with differential levels of ICT access, and varying migration
motivations, intentions, aspirations and expectations.
Through taking a differentiated lens on the dialectical relationship between new media and
migration, authors heed Sheller and Urry’s (2006) call to examine mobilities ‘in their fluid
interdependence and not in their separate spheres’ (p. 212). The papers discuss migration
as a process involving liminal spaces (cf. Bhabha, 1990, 1994) that are characterized by
periods of transition, experimentation and tentativeness. Collectively, they take the reader
through different stages of the migrant experience – from weighing a multitude of options
pre-departure, to arrival and adaptation in the host country – in demonstrating the contingent
nature of the relationship between migration and new media. While new media are found to
function as an ‘anchor’ (Williams et al., 2008) in liminal spaces in some case studies, they
are thought to exacerbate a state of transit and flux in others.
In her analysis of German migrant professionals’ sense of place in Singapore, Tabea Bork-
Hüffer inquires into how their attachment, bonding and sensuous experience of the city
evolve under the influence of ICTs from pre-migration via the immediate post-migration
phases to a few years after their arrival. She probes into the degree of consonance between
early and later impressions of the city that are simultaneously informed by unmediated and
mediated experiences, capturing also the effects of a digitally enhanced ‘imaginative’
(Sheller and Urry, 2006: 207) or ‘cognitive/imaginary’ mobility (Lemos, 2008: 98). Also in the
context of Singapore, Sun Sun Lim and Becky Pham explore mediated and unmediated
This is the pre-print version of Lim, S. S., Bork-Huffer, T. & Yeoh, B. (2016). Manoeuvring
through Physical and Virtual Spaces: Mobility, Migration and New Media. New Media &
Society,18(10), 2147–2154.
connections between migrant students, local and co-national friends in the host country and
family and friends in the home country. As migrant students cope with relocation challenges,
online spaces serve as a buffer zone for acculturation to the foreign land, while transnational
spaces offer a sense of comfort and security. Jozon Lorenzana explores how Filipino
migrants, who are seeking to establish new lives in Delhi, have their identities tested,
questioned, stretched and affirmed by locals and co-nationals. He proposes the term
‘mediated recognition’ to account for the ways new and traditional media facilitate
recognition by providing a platform for self-presentation and affirmation from social networks,
both proximal and distant, old and new. Lorenzana underlines how – often hybrid (cf.
Bhabha, 1994; Brinkerhoff, 2010) – identities are digitally constructed and performed in
liminal spaces through the ‘reiterative power of discourse’ (Butler, 1993: 2) and as a means
to counteract perceived downward social mobility. Maria Platt et al. analyse the factors that
determine access to and utilization of ICTs by Indonesian domestic workers in Singapore,
who are legally obliged to live-in with their employers. They show how the increasing
reliance on communication technologies by both the domestic workers and their employers
necessitates a renegotiation of social and employment relations in the household and
therewith potentially extends times of tension and liminality for the workers. Joong-Hwan Oh
discusses how members of a Korean women’s migrant platform, ‘MissyUSA’, use this forum
to make sense of complicated procedures and prolonged uncertainty as they seek
permanent residency and eventually naturalization in the United States. On a more
intangible level, these migrants seek to retain their Korean identity through recreating
traditional cuisine that embodies their rich cultural heritage, and making frequent trips to the
home nation. They thus gravitate to MissyUSA as it offers a point of convergence for those
seeking advice and those proffering it.
Another theme developed in this collection is migrants’ differential access to ICTs and digital
mobilities and the ensuing online and offline politics of space (Massey, 1991, 1993, 2012
[2005]). Whereas digital technologies potentially are ‘immensely empowering for the people
and places able to construct and consume them’ (Zook et al., 2004: 157), ‘mediated
communication must be understood as both producer and a product of hierarchy and as
such fundamentally implicated in the exercise of, and resistance to, power in modern
societies’ (Silverstone, 2005: 190). The very use of ICTs can itself be a stage for migrants to
assert themselves and their rights. In particular, for relatively disadvantaged low-wage
migrant workers, the power asymmetries (Lim, 2016) that inhere in employer–employee
relationships are exacerbated when employers impose a high degree of surveillance and
regulation of their domestic workers’ access and use of ICTs (see also Qiu, 2008; Wallis,
2015). This is discussed by Platt et al. whose findings indicate that Indonesian domestic
workers’ negotiations of ICTs create fluid possibilities for these women to exercise greater
agency while attempting to circumvent the inequalities inscribed upon their position as
foreign domestic workers who are highly vulnerable to the vagaries of their employers. The
authors’ dissection of migrant domestic workers’ complex bargaining strategies for access to
ICTs vis-á-vis their employers also challenges the reduction of the proverbial ‘digital divide’
into a simple distinction between ‘information haves and have-nots’ (Wresch, 1996): The
workers’ everyday tactical negotiations for access to ICT use – if not all the time, then under
certain conditions (e.g. only through their employers’ devices), or at certain times (e.g. after
This is the pre-print version of Lim, S. S., Bork-Huffer, T. & Yeoh, B. (2016). Manoeuvring
through Physical and Virtual Spaces: Mobility, Migration and New Media. New Media &
Society,18(10), 2147–2154.
finishing work in the evening) – exemplify a much more differentiated barter over the
appropriation of digital technologies in a global city-state where access to ICTs is generally
assumed to be so ubiquitous as to be almost ‘banal’ and ‘ordinary’ (Graham, 2004: 22). At
the same time, ICTs can also be deployed to create ‘panoptic geographies’ over migrant
lives, ‘with important implications for individual privacy’ (Zook et al., 2004: 168), as
employers who grant their workers the right to use ICT eventually excavate new ways of
surveilling their employees’ participation in digital spaces online. Platt et al., for example,
broach the issue of how being constantly reachable through ICTs by their employers can
become a source of stress and tension for the domestic workers.
Lim and Pham raise a similar issue although they focus on a group that is embedded in very
different politics of mobility and access to ICTs. In their analysis of migrant students’ digital
networks, they show how the boundless nature of ICTs can create obligations to stay in very
frequent contact with families and friends back home to an extent where this could
monopolise their time and distract them from seeking more contacts with local members of
host society. At the same time, they also point to ICTs’ empowering role as witnessed by the
positive effects that newly and digitally established ties to other acquaintances (mostly co-
nationals) in the migration destination have for some of the students. Making a similar point,
Lorenzana, observes how the Internet, where the great majority of the content is created by
users and social networks (Alonso and Oiarzabal, 2010), functions as a source of power
through giving users a voice, allowing them to actively construct and transform (self)images,
affirming a sense of (self)worth and re-establishing their sociality. He points out how these
processes also enhance his interviewees’ connections to members of local society. Bork-
Hüffer also outlines how the mere perception of digital content can be empowering and
become a resource in establishing and maintaining ties to the local society. She illustrates
how migrants’ engagement with the everyday socio-political assemblages (McCann and
Ward, 2011) in Singapore through their preoccupation with socio-political webpages and
blogs authored by locals, can become a source of crucial insider information and therewith
an important resource for her interviewees when engaging with their offline private and work
contacts with locals in Singapore. As pointed out above, a major contribution of this special
section is the focus not only on the often subtle but highly differentiated and
‘compartmentalised’ (Lim and Pham, this issue) digital connections and engagements forged
by migrants with people and places in their home countries, but also on the simultaneous,
equally differentiated, connectivities created at destination and elsewhere. Several papers
stress the complexity and diversity of mobile subjects sustaining mediated and unmediated
relations with very different groups – locals, fellow migrants and contacts in their home
countries of diverse ethnicities, class, educational and professional backgrounds and holding
various relationships to them (e.g. employers, employees, fellow students, co-workers,
customers, family members, friends and acquaintances). This approach throws open the
important and large body of literature that has focused on digital diasporas and the
emergence of comparatively closed digital transnational communities (e.g. the compendium
on ‘Diasporas in the New Media Age’ edited by Alinejad, 2011; Alonso, 2010; Conversi, 2012;
Turner, 2008; the Special Issue on Migration and Diaspora in the Age of Information and
Communication Technologies edited by Oiarzabal and Reips, 2012). We hence chime in with
Hanafi’s (2005: 581) observation that it is important to recognize the existence of ‘dispersed
This is the pre-print version of Lim, S. S., Bork-Huffer, T. & Yeoh, B. (2016). Manoeuvring
through Physical and Virtual Spaces: Mobility, Migration and New Media. New Media &
Society,18(10), 2147–2154.
communities’ and ‘dispersed people’ as well as Bork-Hüffer et al.’s (2016) critique of the term
‘migrant community’. In other words, we ask if analyses that focus purely on the examination
of digital transnational migrant spaces potentially bear a risk of shading out the significance
of migrants’ often intermingled digital and offline connections – of varying depths – that also
extend to people in local societies and elsewhere. Instead, we argue for a more expansive
approach to the connections between migrant lives and new media that is attentive to the
simultaneous, ramifying and multidirectional webs of ICT connectivity that is reflected in
migrant social worlds that are at once localized and transnationalised. We conclude by
pointing to various omissions in this special section that could serve to stimulate further
work. As ‘new spaces created by the domestication of new media are also gendered spaces
or even gendered divides’ (Sørensen and Meyer, 2003: 125), it is a little surprising that none
of the articles in this compilation specifically foregrounds the significance of gender in
migrants’ choices of and participation in digital spaces and mobilities (a question that
becomes particularly pressing with regard to Oh’s analysis of the ‘MissyUSA’ platform that is
restricted to married Korean–American or Korean–Canadian women). The different case
studies also call for a deeper analysis and theorization of the role of class (mobility) in virtual
and spatial mobilities. The mobile subjects that feature in this compilation could in all but one
case (Platt et al.’s article on migrant domestic workers in Singapore) be classified as
belonging to the ‘middle class’ in their home countries. Lorenzana’s, as well as Lim and
Pham’s findings show, however, that some migrants experience downward social mobility
and may be ascribed a very different social and class status once they arrive in the receiving
countries.
With regard to the fact that migration as a social phenomenon ranges widely, it further needs
to be noted that contributions are restricted to transnational and urban-bound migration. This
provides a starting point to think across other types of migration. What are similarities or
differences in new media use in terms of internal migration trajectories? While the papers
stress critical reflection on migration as a process that covers a period from pre-departure,
relocation times to the post-settlement phase, how is this (nonetheless single) migration
experience enmeshed in migrants’ long-term life cycle and biographies? How do circular
forms of migration in an increasingly transient world affect and interlink with virtual
mobilities? How does the interaction between spatial, circular and virtual mobilities affect
mobile subjects’ social fields and ‘life chances’ (Weber as cited in Giddens, 2000 [1984]) in
the long run?
Further, in her paper, Bork-Hüffer found that some of her German migrant professional
interviewees started to more readily embrace ICTs after moving to Singapore, triggered
especially by social pressure of their local peer groups. This seems to accord with the
popular observation that ‘Asian’ societies more readily embrace new technological
advancements when compared to their ‘European’ and ‘North American’ counterparts. It also
has been argued that in Asia, ICTs and particularly mobile phones ‘are also performing
multiple cultural functions; they operate within a range of cultural and symbolic registers.
They are more than just technologies; they are sites of cultural production’ (Bell, 2006: 43–
44). These postulations altogether urge us to ask: are there differential degrees and varying
limits to the way ICTs feature in the mediation of migrant social life across a diverse range of
This is the pre-print version of Lim, S. S., Bork-Huffer, T. & Yeoh, B. (2016). Manoeuvring
through Physical and Virtual Spaces: Mobility, Migration and New Media. New Media &
Society,18(10), 2147–2154.
Asian and Western societies? Conversely, how does differential ICT use in societies with
different social, cultural and historical complexions affect migration plans, decisions,
pathways, acculturation and identity formations? We hope that these questions will
underscore the need for cross-cultural comparisons that critically assess potential effects of
differences in the appropriation and use of ICTs.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research
Institute and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Migration Cluster as well as the Alexander-
von-Humboldt-Foundation, Germany for supporting their research collaboration.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication
of this article.
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Author biographies
Sun Sun Lim is Associate Professor at the Department of Communications and New Media,
National University of Singapore. She has written extensively on the social implications of
technology domestication by young people and families, charting the ethnographies of their
Internet and mobile phone use. Her latest books include Mobile Communication and the
Family: Asian Experiences in Technology Domestication (Springer, 2016) and Asian
Perspectives on Digital Culture: Emerging Phenomena, Enduring Concepts (Routledge,
2016).
Tabea Bork-Hüffer is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University
of Singapore. Her research interests and publications centre around the changing
geographies of internal and international migration, migrant health and health governance,
and the role of new media in migrants’ place perception with a regional focus on China,
Southeast Asia and Germany. She received the national award of the Association of
Geographers at German Universities (VGDH) for her PhD thesis on migrants' access to
health services in China.
Brenda S.A. Yeoh is Professor (Provost’s Chair), Department of Geography, as well as Dean
of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore. She is also the
Research Leader of the Asian Migration Cluster at the Asia Research Institute, NUS. Her
interests in migration research in Asia include key themes such as cosmopolitanism and
highly skilled talent migration; gender, social reproduction and care migration; migration,
national identity and citizenship issues; globalising universities and international student
This is the pre-print version of Lim, S. S., Bork-Huffer, T. & Yeoh, B. (2016). Manoeuvring
through Physical and Virtual Spaces: Mobility, Migration and New Media. New Media &
Society,18(10), 2147–2154.
mobilities; and cultural politics, family dynamics and international marriage migrants. She
has published widely in these fields.
... They enable quick on-the-go information of what is happening now, which border is open, what the most current information is. As other colleagues have pointed out, social media enable (potential) migrants to contact previously unknown people in likely destination countries (Hiller & Franz 2004;Dekker & Engbersen 2014;Thulin & Vilhelmson 2014;Lim et al. 2016). In this sense, a social media platform offers a means of connecting to other people and functions as a transmitter of information, not a source. ...
... On the one hand, for example, Collyer (2005) and Schapendonk (2015) illustrate the importance of social networks in gathering information during the migration process. On the other hand, another focus in the literature is being put on broadcast communication on social media, namely, information collected via social media that wasn't addressed to the migrant or refugee directly or even indirectly, which also plays an increasingly important role (Hiller & Franz 2004;Dekker & Engbersen 2014;Thulin & Vilhelmson 2014;Lim et al. 2016). ...
Technical Report
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This deliverable discusses gender differences in the role of mobile media for migrants and diverging EU perceptions. In particular, the deliverable shows that female migrants and refugees cannot be reduced to being passive companions to men. Rather they take on an active role in staying informed, finding creative ways of coping with unforeseen difficulties, and forging a better life for their children, all in the face of being at higher risk than men. The analyses are built on the insights of 152 semi-structured interviews (64% men and 36% women coming from 17 different countries) as well as 42 experts, interviewed in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Libya, Jordan, and Turkey. The processual nature of mixed migration is acknowledged by speaking with interviewees who come from different contexts, located in different countries, and at different stages of their migration process. The analyses demonstrate that despite personal judgments of being well informed, many women come to realize their previous perceptions do not match up with reality. Their social network and social media are the most heavily relied on sources, and trust is put mostly into these sources. Official information campaigns and governments are rarely mentioned and used as sources of information. Mobile media are also an important tool for women to cope with the uncertainty of waiting. Women also mentioned having had misperceptions about the waiting periods connected to migration processes more than men. Overall, women’s perceptions of the EU are manifold, subjective, and relate to all aspects of society. Our analysis showed that in particular women’s rights are a key theme for female refugees, oftentimes being mentioned as a reason for migrating, while men gave less importance to the issue.
... These perceptions, of course, would not always be confirmed once the migrants and refugees arrived at their destination (e.g., Fiedler, 2016). In addition, with the rise of social media in the migration context, research has focused on social media's role in enabling (potential) migrants to contact previously unknown people in likely destination countries that would contribute to shaping their (mis)perceptions of Europe and the EU (Hiller & Franz, 2004;Dekker & Engbersen, 2014;Thulin & Vilhelmson, 2014;Lim et al., 2016). ...
... Moreover, traditional (online and offline) media, as well, play a role, first and foremost, when it comes to getting a better impression of the situation in destination countries (see, e.g., Diker, 2016;Timmerman, 2014). Another focus in the literature is being put on broadcast communication on social media, namely, information collected via social media that wasn't addressed to the migrant or refugee directly or even indirectly, also plays an increasingly important role (Hiller & Franz, 2004;Dekker & Engbersen, 2014;Thulin & Vilhelmson, 2014;Lim et al., 2016). ...
Technical Report
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This deliverable discusses the migrants’ and refugees’ perceptions of the EU and its migration policies. In particular, the deliverable shows that migrants’ and refugees’ perceptions are diverse and so are the sources of these perceptions. The analyses are built on the invaluable insights of 124 migrants and refugees (62% men and 38% women) as well as 42 experts, interviewed in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Libya, and Turkey. The processual nature of mixed migration is acknowledged speaking with interviewees who come from different contexts, located in different countries, and at different stages of their migration process. The analyses demonstrate that migrants’ and refugees’ initial perceptions of the EU and its migration policies do not always turn out to hold true. Furthermore, such misperceptions or rather discrepancies are highly subjective or at least individualized. Perceptions are often only made in transit and are thus only seldom the sole migration “trigger”. Finally, our interviews highlight that migrants and refugees have a diverse repertoire of information sources. Information is not taken for granted and will be double-checked or taken more or less seriously depending on content as well as the source itself.
... For example, researchers such as Diminescu (2008), Hamel (2009) and Lim et al. (2016) emphasise how ICTs enable migrants to "circulate" while creating and maintaining near and distant connections. Sayad (2004) highlighted how ICTs are increasingly transforming the "twofold absence" of migrants to a dual and concurrent presence of 'here and there'. ...
... ICTs in "diasporic" and transnational connection Connection between migrants, and their broader network and environment Andrade & Doolin, 2018;Awad & Tossell, 2019;Boas, 2020;Collin et al., 2015;Dekker et al., 2016;Diminescu, 2008;Fortunati et al., 2011b;Georgiou, 2006;Gifford & Wilding, 2013;Hall, 1990;Hamel, 2009;Komito & Bates, 2011;Larsen et al., 2006;Levitt, 1998;Levitt & Jaworsky, 2007;Lim et al., 2016;Marlowe, 2019;Oiarzabal, 2012;Oiarzabal & Reips, 2012;Pearce et al., 2013;Thompson, 2009;Vincent, 2014;Wilding, 2006 Codagnone & Kluzer, 2011;Collyer, 2010;Dekker et al., 2018;Dekker & Engbersen, 2014;Felton, 2015;Frouws et al., 2016;Garrido et al., 2010;Gillespie et al., 2016Gillespie et al., , 2018Gough & Gough, 2019;Hannides et al., 2016;Hashemi et al., 2017;Holmes & Janson, 2008;Kang et al., 2017;Kaufmann, 2018;Komito & Bates, 2009;Maitland, 2018;Mancini et al., 2019;Muñoz et al., 2018;Newell et al., 2016;Siddiquee & Kagan, 2006;Suh & Hsieh, 2019;Vernon et al., 2016;Wei & Gao, 2017;Wilding, 2009 ICTs and migration-related livelihoods Borkert et al., 2018;Borokhovich et al., 2015;Gino & Staats, 2012b, 2012aHackl, 2018;Hiremath & Misra, 2006;Kaufmann, 2018;Latonero & Kift, 2018;Lu et al., 2016;Miao et al., 2018;Patil, 2019;Steel, 2017;Steel et al., 2017;Suri & Jack, 2016;Yafi et al., 2018 Migrants and digital risks Migrants and "digital divide" Alam & Imran, 2015;Benítez, 2006Benítez, , 2010Caidi et al., 2010;Chatman, 1996;Clark & Sywyj, 2012;Frouws et al., 2016;Fuchs, 2009;Goodall et al., 2010;Harney, 2013;Katz et al., 2017;Leung, 2018;Platt et al., 2016;Robertson et al., 2016;Salman & Rahim, 2012;Vertovec, 2009;Wilding, 2009;Yu et al., 2018 Digital migration study ...
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Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have increasingly become vital for people on the move including the nearly 80 million displaced due to conflict, violence, and human right violations globally. However, existing research on ICTs and migrants, which almost entirely focused on migrants' ICT use 'en route' or within developed economies principally in the perspectives of researchers from these regions, is very fragmented posing a difficulty in understanding the key objects of research. Moreover, ICTs are often celebrated as liberating and exploitable at migrants' rational discretion even though they are 'double-edged swords' with significant risks, burdens, pressures and inequality challenges particularly for vulnerable migrants including those forcefully displaced and trafficked. Towards addressing these limitations and illuminating future directions, this paper, first, scrutinises the existing research vis-a-vis ICTs' liberating and authoritarian role particularly for vulnerable migrants whereby explicating key issues in the research domain. Second, it identifies key gaps and opportunities for future research. Using a tailored methodology, broad literature relating to ICTs and migration/development published in the period 1990-2020 was surveyed resulting in 157 selected publications which were critically appraised vis-a-vis the key themes, major technologies dealt with, and methodologies and theories/concepts adopted. Furthermore, key insights, trends, gaps, and future research opportunities pertaining to both the existing and missing objects of research in ICTs and migration/development are spotlighted.
... For example, researchers such as Diminescu (2008), Hamel (2009) and Lim et al. (2016) emphasise how ICTs enable migrants to "circulate" while creating and maintaining near and distant connections. Sayad (2004) highlighted how ICTs are increasingly transforming the "twofold absence" of migrants to a dual and concurrent presence of 'here and there'. ...
... ICTs in "diasporic" and transnational connection Connection between migrants, and their broader network and environment Andrade & Doolin, 2018;Awad & Tossell, 2019;Boas, 2020;Collin et al., 2015;Dekker et al., 2016;Diminescu, 2008;Fortunati et al., 2011b;Georgiou, 2006;Gifford & Wilding, 2013;Hall, 1990;Hamel, 2009;Komito & Bates, 2011;Larsen et al., 2006;Levitt, 1998;Levitt & Jaworsky, 2007;Lim et al., 2016;Marlowe, 2019;Oiarzabal, 2012;Oiarzabal & Reips, 2012;Pearce et al., 2013;Thompson, 2009;Vincent, 2014;Wilding, 2006 Codagnone & Kluzer, 2011;Collyer, 2010;Dekker et al., 2018;Dekker & Engbersen, 2014;Felton, 2015;Frouws et al., 2016;Garrido et al., 2010;Gillespie et al., 2016Gillespie et al., , 2018Gough & Gough, 2019;Hannides et al., 2016;Hashemi et al., 2017;Holmes & Janson, 2008;Kang et al., 2017;Kaufmann, 2018;Komito & Bates, 2009;Maitland, 2018;Mancini et al., 2019;Muñoz et al., 2018;Newell et al., 2016;Siddiquee & Kagan, 2006;Suh & Hsieh, 2019;Vernon et al., 2016;Wei & Gao, 2017;Wilding, 2009 ICTs and migration-related livelihoods Borkert et al., 2018;Borokhovich et al., 2015;Gino & Staats, 2012b, 2012aHackl, 2018;Hiremath & Misra, 2006;Kaufmann, 2018;Latonero & Kift, 2018;Lu et al., 2016;Miao et al., 2018;Patil, 2019;Steel, 2017;Steel et al., 2017;Suri & Jack, 2016;Yafi et al., 2018 Migrants and digital risks Migrants and "digital divide" Alam & Imran, 2015;Benítez, 2006Benítez, , 2010Caidi et al., 2010;Chatman, 1996;Clark & Sywyj, 2012;Frouws et al., 2016;Fuchs, 2009;Goodall et al., 2010;Harney, 2013;Katz et al., 2017;Leung, 2018;Platt et al., 2016;Robertson et al., 2016;Salman & Rahim, 2012;Vertovec, 2009;Wilding, 2009;Yu et al., 2018 Digital migration study ...
Conference Paper
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Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have increasingly become vital for people on the move including the nearly 80 million displaced due to conflict, violence, and human right violations globally. However, existing research on ICTs and migrants, which almost entirely focused on migrants' ICT use 'en route' or within developed economies principally in the perspectives of researchers from these regions, is very fragmented posing a difficulty in understanding the key objects of research. Moreover, ICTs are often celebrated as liberating and exploitable at migrants' rational discretion even though they are 'double-edged swords' with significant risks, burdens, pressures and inequality challenges particularly for vulnerable migrants including those forcefully displaced and trafficked. Towards addressing these limitations and illuminating future directions, this paper, first, scrutinises the existing research vis-à-vis ICTs' liberating and authoritarian role particularly for vulnerable migrants whereby explicating key issues in the research domain. Second, it identifies key gaps and opportunities for future research. Using a tailored methodology, broad literature relating to ICTs and migration/development published in the period 1990-2020 was surveyed resulting in 157 selected publications which were critically appraised vis-à-vis the key themes, major technologies dealt with, and methodologies and theories/concepts adopted. Furthermore, key insights, trends, gaps, and future research opportunities pertaining to both the existing and missing objects of research in ICTs and migration/development are spotlighted.
... The temporal process of settlement, in terms of negotiating the shortterm goals of finding housing and services and gaining insight into new ways of living, can have significant impacts on international students' quality of life and learning experiences in the host country (Caidi et al., 2010). Digital media connectivity plays a substantial role in supporting both transnational and translocal networks of students as they navigate the 'liminal' space in the process of adaptation and acculturation throughout arrival and settlement (Gomes et al., 2014;Lim et al., 2016). Translocality, as a form of 'grounded transnationalism', refers to socio-spatial migrant processes relating to networks, place making and mobilities across and within cities through the state of being situated both here (host country) and there (home country) (Smith, 2011). ...
Chapter
The rapid expansion of the international student market, including within major Australian cities, over the past two decades has been part of a broader transition towards the commodification of educational services across the Global North. Academic institutions have responded by increasing their investment in purpose-built student accommodation, yet its development remains small scale and often unaffordable relative to growing demand and needs. A lack of affordable short to longer stay housing options means that many students migrating to Australia are forced to negotiate their own access to housing, either before or shortly after arrival. The transition towards digitally mediated access via peer-to-peer platforms has provided a universally recognisable set of emerging self-governing practices for negotiating shared housing access whilst also cultivating virtual student geographies for managing the inherent risks of migrating and settling in an unfamiliar environment. Drawing on aggregate settlement patterns and digital housing journeys of young students entering and living in Australia, this chapter discusses the move from local to distributed informal searches for accommodation, how it mediates arrival, access and settlement, and subsequently how it shapes Australian cities. Interactive maps can be viewed at unsw.to/HE_visa_2016
... Digitalization and the transformative power of new media significantly change the preconditions for our daily experiences, imagination, and interactions with known and unknown others in terms of both time and space (Coleman, 2020;Lim et al., 2016). This article focuses on how and why temporary migrant workers like WHMs and different audiences are "connected" via online practices (i.e. ...
Article
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The literature on spatial-temporal barriers shows that temporary migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation and has concentrated on how they utilize new media to address underpayment and exploitation. These studies, however, have left unexplored the agency, temporality, and spatial considerations that underpin why workers prefer to activate “informal” mechanisms of complaint rather than accessing “formal” channels of redress, such as the Fair Work Ombudsman or labor unions. Using Working Holiday Makers in Australia as an example, this article focuses on digital togetherness generated through new media. I argue that digital interactions on new media platforms not only change the spatial-temporal limit of temporary migrant workers, but also create digital togetherness and connect workers with different imagined others (customers, arriving migrant workers, and workers who are facing exploitation). This connection can become an everyday resistance strategy, a remedy to space–time limits, and potentially challenge asymmetrical power relations between workers and employers.
... This concept essentially indicates that (potential) migrant's networks of kin and acquaintances provide migration-related resources, such as information, assistance, and funding, and thereby decrease associated costs and risks of migration (Haug, 2008, p. 588;Palloni et al., 2001Palloni et al., , p. 1264. In recent years, the concept has been extended and revised to include the manifold possibilities offered by ICTs and mobile media in maintaining contact and forging latent ties relevant for successful migration (Dekker et al., 2016;Lim et al., 2016). As early as 2008, Diminescu (p. ...
Technical Report
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This deliverable discusses the importance and role of mobile media during the migration process of refugees and migrants that wish to travel to Europe. In particular, the deliverable shows that the smartphone became a “migration essential” in migration movements of the digital age that fulfils the most diverse functions at different stages of the migration process. The analyses built on the invaluable insights of 88 refugees and migrants (53% men and 47% women) as well as several experts interviewed in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, and Turkey and thereby acknowledges the processual nature of mixed migration by speaking with interviewees who come from different contexts, located in different contexts, and at different stages of their migration process. The analyses demonstrate that both the smartphone’s importance as well as the role it plays in refugees’ and migrants’ lives strikingly differs over the course of the migration process. Finally, our interviews highlight that the importance, as well as the emphasis on the diverse role of the smartphone as essential for “successful migration”, may hide the fact that its importance arises out of the manifold contexts that make the smartphone essential and, in some cases, even crucial for survival. We discuss the implications of our findings for future research, migration-related governmental as well as non-governmental organizations.
... Similarly, Gillespie et al. (2018) draw on the work of Smets (2018) and Roseneau (2003) to discuss the concepts of "digital passages" and "distant proximities" while Leurs (2015) also builds on the passage in order to address issues of navigation in digital space. In addition, research on place-making practices that relate to digital activities has started gaining ground (Bork-Hüffer 2016; Lim et al. 2016;Polson 2015;Witteborn 2012Witteborn , 2015. Recently, Smets et al. (2019) have addressed issues of space in a chapter of the already highlighted volume The Sage Handbook of Media and Migration dedicated to the spatial dimension. ...
Chapter
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This chapter introduces the concept of migrant digital space (MDS). MDS is defined as configured by migrants’ online activity before the journey, en route, and when settling down, and as a space shaped by practices. Following a relational approach to space, MDS is understood as an outcome of social relations and practices with material and intangible characteristics. Within this perspective, MDS is formed by (a) digital subjects (accounts, pages, hashtags, channels), (b) migrant-related topics (such as discussions on migration routes; language lessons; football conversations; university enrolment; job seeking) through conversations across (c) various digital platforms. After introducing the concept of MDS it is explained how, in the context of the DIGINAUTS project, the concept was developed into the collection of a dataset of public Facebook content, which was subsequently implemented. The data collected and some of its characteristics are highlighted.
Article
As a result of the rapid evolution of computer culture, social media and networking websites now provide the primary socialisation platforms for individuals across the world. With characteristics such as transcending time, space, and even cultures, these platforms impact individuals through increased interactions. Although past research shows how social media impacts on individuals’ cultural affiliations and identity construction processes, research neglects to understand the role and impact of the characteristics of social media and networking environments as individuals engage in these virtual spaces. This paper uses Instagram as a case study, to demonstrate the liminal nature of social media spaces and looks at how this virtual space and its characteristics evoke a sense of reflexivity with regards to identity construction amongst young British Sikhs in the U.K. We highlight how the empowering characteristics of this virtual space impact their identity and just how the communities that are formed by individuals through Instagram, act as a further acculturative agent, as they attempt to deal with the tensions that they experience as a result of being both British and Sikh. Findings implicate how brands can engage with and support the individuals going through this reflective identity re/construction process.
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As powerful, portable media devices such as smartphones and tablets diffuse across the region at an unparalleled rate, families in Asia are coming to terms with the many asymmetries that these gadgets herald. Because mobile communication devices are deeply personal, but are also vested with a remarkable combination of instrumentality and emotionality, their entry into a household will inevitably provoke alternating reactions of anticipation and dread, efficacy and inadequacy, liberation and enslavement, and joy and drudgery. Within every home, these emotional dualities will pervade each family member’s experience of domesticating mobile devices, making asymmetries relating to power, expectations, practice, access, competencies, and values increasingly palpable. Families must therefore negotiate such asymmetries as they manage the growing presence of mobile communication devices and their expanding repertoire of locative and social media functions.
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Internal migration within Asian countries and international migration to, within, and out of Asia have been on the rise throughout the past decades. As types and pathways of migration, migrants' sociocultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and their transnational and translocal trajectories become increasingly diverse, a majority of them move to cities. Diverging power geometries and relations are constantly negotiated and (re)produced in the socio-spatial dialectic of the city. Through their individual and collective agency, assets, and knowledge, mobile subjects have become important agents in the (re)production of spaces in cities, whereas the socio-political and physical conditions of spaces frame their livelihoods, opportunities, and agency. Research on migrants' agency has intensified recently, but the specific modes through which agency operates in the socio-spatial dialectic still need to be conceptualised. We develop a framework that outlines different modes through which agents and space interact. The framework is exemplified through papers on case studies from Dhaka and the Pearl River Delta (PRD) that are part of this special issue. Dhaka and the PRD have been characterised by accelerated growth throughout the past decades, particularly due to the influx of rural-to-urban migrants, but they also receive an increasing number of international migrants. We conclude that through their diverse, multi-sited, and translocal relations and activities stretching beyond the receiving cities in a context of constant transformation, migrants' practices contribute to the emergence of a specific type of urban spaces that we delineate as transient urban spaces. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/psp.1890/abstract
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As Burundi has moved from ethnic conflict and political exclusion towards peace, reconciliation and democracy, the role of the diaspora has changed as well. Previously, Hutu exiles saw it as their duty to provide uncensored information on the conflict and to fight for the right to express a multitude of opinions. By exploring changes in Burundian websites, the article shows how some Burundian exiles have recently embraced a position of nation-building. Meanwhile, the democratic reforms do not eliminate the anxieties and doubts of many exiled Burundians. These anxieties find their expression on websites where Burundians from all over the world create communities where they can express the unspeakable and float opinions that would never be acceptable in the political field. The article argues that the ideology of democracy and human rights depends on an exclusion of certain opinions—and that diasporic cyberspace may function as a repository for such surplus opinion where the unspeakable may be aired.
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This chapter provides an overview of contemporary trends relevant to the development of geographies based on new digital technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones. Visions of utopian and ubiquitous information superhighways and placeless commerce are clearly passé, yet privileged individuals and places are ever more embedded in these new digital geographies while private and state entities are increasingly embedding these digital geographies in all of us. First is a discussion of the centrality of geographical metaphors to the way in which we imagine and visualize the new digital geographies. Then the example of the commercial Internet (e-commerce) is used to demonstrate the continued central role of place in new digital geography both in terms of where activities cluster and how they vary over space. The transformation of digital connections from fixed (i.e., wired) to untethered (i.e., wireless) connections is explored as to its significance in the way we interact with information and the built environment. Finally is an examination of the troubling issue of the long data shadows cast by all individuals as they negotiate their own digital geographies vis-à-vis larger state and private entities.
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The growing scholarship on ethnic diasporas has prompted various off-shoots. Two significant directions are the relationship of diasporas with globalisation and their role in the expansion and radicalisation of ethnic conflict. The corporate enthusiasm of the 1990s for globalisation has been followed by sombre reflections on its destructive impact upon a vast array of areas, including inter-ethnic relations worldwide. This article explores one crucial aspect of this wave of disruption*the rapid expansion of radical forms of long-distance nationalism, often leading to a stress on maximalist goals and an abdication of responsibility. It conceptually distinguishes between stateless diasporas and diasporas that conceive themselves as tied to, and represented by, an existing ‘nation- state’. Examples include ethnic lobbies from the former Yugoslavia, greater Han xenophobia among overseas Chinese, and Hindutva technocratic chauvinism among Hindu-Americans. Finally, the article identifies the onset of ‘online mobbing’ or ‘cyber bullying’ as a new and ominous trend in Internet radicalism.
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This article explores how and if working-class information and communication technologies (ICTs) lead to the empowerment of the information have-less. It examines the ways in which have-less migrants, an important segment of have-less users, adopt and appropriate working-class ICTs and the subsequent empowerment or disempowerment consequences of this process. By using a new data collection method called 'survey group,' this study provides a combination of quantitative and qualitative evidence, collected in 2002 and 2006 in urban South China through a participatory empowerment design. Findings from the study suggest that working-class ICTs have diffused widely among migrants and that migrants' socio-economic status significantly affects ICT connectivity. This impact creates openings for empowerment as well as disempowerment under a variety of social settings. The research design and its preliminary results have wider implications for ICTs for development (ICT4D) research in China, Asia, and globally.
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The continuing difficulty of finding a solution to the physical return of the Palestinian diaspora to the homeland is increasingly being addressed in the digital realm by the rise of virtual communities. PALESTA (Palestinian Scientists and Technologists Aboard) was established to harness the scientific and technological knowledge of expatriate professionals for the benefit of development efforts in Palestine. This paper will discuss both the possibilities and the limitations of the PALESTA network. Additionally, it will examine new media technology and its implications in charting diasporic movements across national borders. Internet networking does not suggest the ‘end of geography’ but rather a kind of ‘reshaping of geography’. Internet networking accomplishes this ‘reshaping’ by simultaneously connecting various dispersed communities not only to their centre but also to each other—periphery to periphery. The paper argues that, in a process of construction and reconstruction of Palestinian identity that is largely affected by dispersed people with a fragile centre of gravity, new media can become important tools for establishing direct contact between these communities, while sometimes challenging the centrality of the homeland in diasporic communications.