Translocal Lives

Refugee settlement, place-making and digital technologies in Rotterdam and Amsterdam

What are we studying?

The Translocal Lives Research Project aims to identify the various ways in which refugee migrants use technologies for creating a sense of place. It also delves into the opportunities and challenges afforded by digital responses to refugee settlement in the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

How do we conduct our research?

Refugees lose an important part of their identities after displacement. Yet, we don’t know how they are managing to cope with this loss and navigate new realities and expectations of life in their host country. This project explored the potential of participatory video to examine issues of belonging, identities, aspirations, sociabilities, and well-being. Specifically, we co-designed the Digital Place-makers program, a 7-week filmmaking course that involved 11 refugees from Syria, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and Eritrea in the production of audio-visual narratives (short films) about the challenges and opportunities identified by them during the process of place-making in the Netherlands. 

How does our research make an impact? 

The findings from the project informed the co-creation of 11 films with the participants, a digital handbook as a field guide to Participatory Video workshops, as well as two scientific articles (under review) providing new theoretical, methodological and empirical insights as well as policy recommendations regarding technology access, use and provision for refugees across Dutch cities.

Project outputs 

During the project, 11 films were co-produced with the participants of the Digital Place-makers program: a filmmaking course that rely on Participatory Video as the main methodology to train participants in basic editing and story-telling. Throughout the films, participants explore the topic of place-making and belonging in the Dutch society (see the posters below).

The films and documentary are also available to watch online through the website of the project. As an outcome of the Digital Place-makers program, we designed a field guide on Participatory Video methodologies with practical activities for anyone wishing to conduct similar projects in the context of digital technologies. More information about the films, the field guide and two papers (under review) can be found in the document below. 

  • Dr. Amanda Alencar (project lead)

    is a digital migration scholar specialized in the study of media and social media in Europe and Latin America, with a focus on how communication technologies are shaping mobility and sociocultural integration processes of (forced) migrants.

  • Camila Sarria Sanz (project researcher)

    is a communication designer from Bogota, Colombia, and holds a master's degree in Media, Culture, and Society from Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. She is passionate about the intersection between education, social entrepreneurship, forced migration, and communication technologies. 

  • Emma Verhoeven (media artist)

    is a designer and media artist based in Rotterdam. She makes playful installations, videos and digital illustrations, which often pose questions about consumerism, identity, and technology. 

  • Jaber Mawazini (research advisor and assistant)

    received a Master of Arts, Cultural Sociology from Erasmus University Rotterdam. His master thesis focused on two pillars: first, it addressed social inequalities on the basis of class and race-ethnicity in (cultural) consumption. Second, it interpreted the cultural practices of Syrian refugees through analyzing their food habits and music in the Netherlands. 

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