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Grant reference: RES-000-22-2266

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Conference paper/presentation details

Mediating migration
This paper addresses the convergence of two parallel developments: global migration and the proliferation of digital media, which are having profound consequences for our transnational world. In the paper I will argue that digital media are implicated in the transformation of the phenomenon of migration. In order to make a theoretical argument on the ‘mediatization’, or ‘mediation’ of migration, I will draw on a three year long comparative and multi-sited ethnography of long-distance communication within Filipino and Caribbean transnational families (funded by the ESRC and conducted in collaboration with D. Miller). That research explores whether the massive transformation in new communications technologies over the last few years has had an impact on the ability of transnational families to cope with separation, often described as the hidden injury of globalization. For example, a Filipina migrant mother in London can now call and text her left-behind children in the Philippines several times a day, peruse social networking sites and leave the webcam on for 12 hours thus achieving a sense of co-presence. In my talk I will contrast the perspectives of migrants and their left-behind relatives, notably children. For instance, while new communication technologies allow migrant mothers to feel empowered in reconstituting their maternal identities, their left-behind children remain significantly more ambivalent about the consequences of transnational communication. Although new media, understood as an emerging communicative environment of ‘polymedia’, cannot solve relationship problems, they do become increasingly integral to the way relationships are enacted and experienced. Moreover, I will conclude that, despite the transnational asymmetries in infrastructure and media literacy, digital media are beginning to transform the wider phenomenon of migration as they affect migrants’ key decisions relating to migration or settlement.

Primary contributor

Author Mirca Madianou

Additional details

30 March 2012
Mediatization in transcultural and transnational perspectives
30 March 2012