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Digital Humanities Lab


17 September 2021
15:00 - 16:15
MS Teams

CDH webinar: ‘On data and care in migration contexts’, by Koen Leurs – September 17

Koen Leurs will give a talk as part of the Centre for Digital Humanities (CDH) monthly webinar series on September 17th about how researchers can care for data in the context of migration. Drawing on critical and feminist theories of care, he develops this intervention in response to the recent trend of seeing migration as a laboratory to carry out experiments with big data.

You can register for this event on the CDH’s events section.

Situated in the emerging interdisciplinary research focus area of digital migration studies, this talk probes Experimental big-data-driven technosolutionism must be understood in the broader socio-political context where refugee and asylum migratory movements are taken to stage a crisis, e.g. the so-called ‘European migration crisis’. Rather than caring for, under the heading of crisis the key aim is increasingly controlling mobile groups. For example, Frontex, Europe’s Border and Coast Guard agency’ is carrying out big-data-driven artificial intelligence (AI) based research and innovation as part of its “Integrated Border Management” (2020, p. 62) seeking to identify, contain and deter particular mobile people. Technologies to be tested include “automated border control”, ” Small Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Systems” and “geospatial data analytics of operational awareness” (2020, p. 35-40). Refugee camps in Greece like “Moria 2.0” become EU’s “sandbox for surveillance technologies”, where data-driven securitization plans include “camera surveillance with motion analysis algorithms monitoring the behavior and movement of centre residents” (Molnar, 2021). In thinking further how we as critical, engaged migration and media researchers operate in this space, in this commentary Koen Leurs draws out conceptually assumptions around and possible relations between the two thematics of data and care.

Koen Leurs is an assistant professor in Gender and Postcolonial Studies at the Graduate Gender Program, Department of Media and Culture, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He works on digital migration. His first monograph is titled Digital Passages. Migrant Youth 2.0. Diaspora, Gender & Youth Cultural Intersections (Amsterdam University Press, 2015). In 2018 he guest-edited a special issue on “Connected migrants: Encapsulation and cosmopolitanization” for Popular Communication. International Journal of Media and Culture (volume 16.1, 2018) with Sandra Ponzanesi, and a special issue on “Forced migration and digital connectivity in(to) Europe” for Social Media + Society (with Kevin Smets).  Most recently he co-edited the Sage Handbook of Media and Migration together with Kevin Smets, Saskia Witteborn, Myria Georgiou and Radhika Gajjala.