Digital Diasporas: Migration, ICTs and transnationalism

13 January 2011 - 14 January 2011

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge


Dr Mirca Madianou (Department of Sociology and Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge)


The conference will address the convergence of two parallel developments: global migration and the flow of symbolic forms and digital interactive media, which are having profound consequences for our transnational world. New developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as the internet and mobile phones combined with a collapse in the cost of international communication are together transforming the experience of migration with implications for family life, sociality and intimacy, identity and political involvement. The conference will assess the impact of digital media on the following crucial aspects of migration: 

The political: representation, visibility, participation;
Migrant socialities;
Culture, identity and belonging;
Family separation and long distance communication; and,
Patterns of migration and policy implications.

Through the series of presentations and panels, the conference will explore the following questions among others: what opportunities do digital media offer in terms of amplifying the visibility and political participation of migrant groups in host societies? Is there any evidence to support the popular assumption that new media isolate migrant populations thus preventing integration, or do ICTs contribute to the orientation of migrants both towards the sending and host society as recent research suggests? Is the internet used to politicise, or radicalise migrant populations in the context of multicultural societies, or is transnational ICT use largely for social and personal purposes? Can ICTs alleviate some of the social costs of migration (such as family separation) for the sending countries? Do the opportunities for synchronous and cheap communication afforded by new media impact on decisions relating to emigration and settlement? Finally, the conference will be an opportunity to reflect on what is qualitatively different about digital technologies compared to older media.

The conference comes at the end of a three-year long ESRC funded study led by Mirca Madianou and Daniel Miller on ‘Migration, ICTs and the transformation of Transnational Family Life’.


Accommodation for non-paper giving participants

Conference participants can find information about accommodation in Cambridge at the following URLs:
NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.

Conference sponsors


The conference organisers are grateful for the generous support provided by CRASSH and the Economic and Social Research Council



Administrative assistance: Helga Brandt (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)




Thursday 13 January

9.15 - 9.45


9.45 - 10.00

 Welcome and Introduction

10.00 - 11.00

Opening Plenary talk

Annabelle Sreberny (SOAS): The mediation of cultural complexity and migration: the Iranian ‘Green Movement’, social media and the changing contours of the inside/outside

11.00 - 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 - 13.00

Panel I

Daniel Miller (UCL): Home in the age of Polymedia

Andreas Hepp (IMKI, University of Bremen): Mediatized migrants: Media cultures and communicative networking in the diaspora

Heather Horst (U of California, Irvine): Conceptualizing Digital Diasporas

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Panel II

Mirca Madianou (Cambridge): Mediations of migration: transnational communication between Filipina migrant mothers and their left-behind children

Dana Diminescu (Telecom Paris Tech and FSHM, Paris): Connected migrants: rethinking the sociology of migrations

Adela Ros and Graciela De La Fuente Vilar (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya): Through the Webcam: Bolivian immigrant women in Barcelona communicating with their families back home

15.30 - 16.00

Coffee break

16.00 - 17.00

Panel III

Miyase Christensen (Karlstad):Cosmopolitanism, Belonging and Transnational Sociality: An Intermediary Space between Mediation and Mediatization

Deirdre McKay (Keele): 'Friends' on the screen: how Facebook surveillance shapes personhood for Filipino migrants


Conference dinner (Lucy Cavendish College)

Friday 14 January

9.30 - 11.00

Panel IV

Marie Gillespie (Open University): Digital Diasporas and Diplomatic Imperatives at the BBC World Service

Eugenia Siapera (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki): Bridge Bloggers in the Middle East

Jonathan Corpus Ong (Cambridge) and Jason Cabanes (Leeds): Engaged, But Not Immersed: Tracking the Mediated Public Connection of Filipino Elite Migrants in London

11.00 - 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 - 13.00

Panel V

Myria Georgiou (LSE): Between strategic nostalgia and banal nomadism: Arab diaspora watching satellite and digital television across Europe

Radha Hegde (NYU): Digital gurus, online classicism: Diasporic pursuits of authenticity

Roza Tsagarousianou (CAMRI, University of Westminster): New media and identity formation among British Muslims

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Round table discussion: From new media to polymedia? Do digital technologies make a difference for migrant transnationalism?

End of conference