ERMeCC Lunch Seminar

Media and migration
Tuesday 22 Feb 2022, 12:00 - 13:00


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Our monthly ERMeCC lunch seminar series continues with two presentations on media and migration. Please note that our monthly ERMeCC lunch seminar series has been rescheduled to Tuesday, 22nd February, 12:00 - 13:00 on Zoom. Please contact for more information. 

#Migrantes on TikTok:  Exploring Platformed Belongings

Daniela Jaramillo-Dent, Amanda Alencar, and Yan Asadchy

Digital media and human mobility are intrinsically connected in an era where the human and the technological converge for representation, mobilisation and agency.  In this context, popular platforms such as TikTok become prime spaces for the narration of stories from diverse creative voices. This study constitutes the first exploratory analysis of TikTok as a medium where migrants embody their belonging through aspirational, performative and self-governance creative and platformed practices. Through a content and discourse analysis of 198 videos gathered with relevant hashtags, using a Python script, we delve into the content created by Hispanic migrants living in Spain and the US. The concept of platformed belongings is theorised in their use of TikTok’s affordances and vernaculars to express aspirations to be part of certain socioeconomic, national, cultural and digital communities. This is achieved through a range of storylines, from collective identities that align with expected values, to stern challenges to oppressive norms. In this sense, we argue that platformed belongings enable migrants to reclaim their rights and negotiate existing symbolic boundaries by achieving different levels of visibility within this platform.

WhatsApp groups in media and migration research: new opportunities, challenges and lessons learned from participatory fieldwork with Venezuelan refugees

Amanda Alencar and Julia Camargo

In this article, we build on our experience of using WhatsApp groups within one study with Venezuelan refugees in Brazil to reflect on the role that WhatsApp can play in media and migration research, as well as in the experiences of settling refugees. WhatsApp groups parallel participatory research’s premises of facilitation of relationships and reduction of power imbalances between “researcher” and “participant” – all core elements to recognise specialised migrant knowledge and experiences in the co-production of solutions for community development and place-making. In line with previous research, our experience shows that the communicative affordances of WhatsApp groups improve communication within research teams not only regarding the provision of feedback and support, but also in creating a friendly and safe environment and a sense of belonging between researchers and refugee collaborators. However, our research outlines several important challenges, including refugees’ limited access to connectivity and practice of sharing mobile devices while keeping their phones safe in Brazil. Issues related to management of public-private boundaries, information overload, context collapse, and confidentiality of data require continuous negotiations among WhatsApp group members through a practice-based ethics approach shaped by personal reflection and deep appreciation for context. Despite these challenges, we contend that WhatsApp groups have the potential to construct new forms of knowledge production that are inclusive, sustainable and meaningful in forced migration contexts. 

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