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Call For Papers: Migration and Communication Flows: Rethinking Borders, Conflict and Identity Through the Digital

CALL FOR PAPERS: ECREA Diaspora, migration and the media section
University of the Basque Country, Bilbao


“We are faced with a crisis of humanity, and the only exit from this crisis is to recognize our growing interdependence as a species and to find new ways to live together in solidarity and cooperation, amidst strangers who may hold opinions and preferences different from our own.”  Zygmunt Bauman, Strangers at our door (Polity, 2016)

ECREA’s ‘Diaspora, Migration and Media’ and ‘Intercultural and International Communication’ sections will organize a joint conference at the University of Basque Country in Bilbao on 2-3 November 2017 that will focus on how research on migration and communication flows can help rethinking key notions like ‘borders’, ‘conflict’, ‘solidarity’, ‘identity’ and ‘culture’.


Migration, cultural diversity and the media are increasingly problematized. Europe appears to be crumbling down in the current moment as a result of the Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump and the so-called ‘European Refugee Crisis’. This is illustrated by hoaxes and fake news messages on these themes that serve as popular clickbait on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As media outlets seek to address these ‘post-Truth’ conditions, populist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, racist and neo-nationalist rhetoric and sentiments have grown excessively across social media. Meanwhile, the number of internal and external European borders proliferates, and digital data are used for surveillance and migration management. Therefore, mediated encounters with diversity, the humanitarianism-securitization nexus and the role of communication flows urgently deserve further academic exploration to advance understanding of some of the major societal challenges of our time.

The continuous re-appropriation of Anas Modamani’s selfie with the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Facebook is an illustrative case in point. He took his selfie in September 2015, when Merkel visited the Berlin shelter where he was then living. Modamani is a Syrian refugee who fled from Darayya. After posting the selfie online, he has repeatedly been falsely linked to terrorism. On the basis of physically resemblance, he was for example wrongly accused to be involved in the bombings in Brussel (March 2016) and the recent attack at a Berlin Christmas market (December 2016), see see

The conference aims to cover a broad range of conflict-related themes such as media production and regulation of information on forced migrants in a ‘post-Truth’ era; fake news; the humanitarianism-securitization nexus, migration management, social and political conflicts related to migrant and diaspora communities, radicalization and online counter-terrorism, hate speech and racism, but also solidarities, activism and protest.

Digital technologies and innovations constantly offer new ways to approach these issues, both theoretically and methodologically. The organizers invite papers that explore the complexity of migration and communication flows through conceptual interventions as well as qualitative and quantitative studies.

The conference will include:

• Keynote lectures by Marie Gillespie and Pedro Oiarzabal.
*Marie Gillespie is Professor of Sociology, The Open University, coordinator of the Mapping Refuge Media Journey project (2016-2018).
“The “Mapping Refugee Media Journeys” project investigates the parallel tracks of the physical and digital journeys of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. It documents the media and informational resources that refugees use from the point of departure, during their journeys across different borders and states, and upon arrival (if they reach their desired destination)”. For more information, see
*Pedro Oiarzabal is an Internet and Basque studies scholar, and a migration and diaspora researcher. His research examines diaspora creation and diaspora interaction with information and communication technologies as well as the meaning of identity in both homeland and diaspora realities, with particular emphasis on the Basque case.

• A roundtable to establish bridges of dialogue between academics studying the coverage of migrants and journalists reporting on various conflicts in Europe, addressing methodological and ethical challenges.
• A YECREA event dedicated to young scholars (PhD and postdoc level): see below for more information.
• A joint panel organized with the ECREA ‘Intercultural and International Communication’ division to broaden the empirical, conceptual and methodological scope of the conference and to explore future collaborations.
• An elaborate social programme, including a conference dinner and boat tour, allowing participants to enjoy the city of Bilbao.
Call for panel and paper proposals

To explore the issue of migration and communication flows in an informal and stimulating atmosphere, we invite participants to submit paper and panel proposals to the 2017 ECREA Diaspora, Migration & Media conference.

We particularly welcome proposals on the following topics:
• Rethinking the category of the migrant: forced migrants, guest-laborers, postsocialist, postcolonial, expatriates
• ‘Bottom-up’ digitally mediated processes, such as transnational and local networking and connectivity, diaspora organizations, identity construction, urban communications
• ‘Top down’ digitally mediated processes of migrant management: border control, surveillance & control systems for population movements, migrant detention centres, express flights, arrests at the street, lack of public information
• The humanitarianism-securitization nexus, human/communication rights, border management, express flights, street arrests, surveillance and political economy
• Migrants, media and language: the impact of migrants on linguistic dynamics (particularly in the context of natively bilingual societies), building resilience for new and local minority media structures
• Intersectional analyses of migration and communication flows: how do axes of difference, including race, gender, sexuality, nation, location, generation religion, class together co-constitute subordination and identity
• Methodological considerations in media and migration studies, including, but not limited to digital migration studies

We encourage scholars whose abstracts have been accepted, to submit full papers by 1 October 2017 in order to compete for the first ECREA Diaspora, Migration & Media Paper Awards. There will be one award for junior scholars and one for senior scholars.

Abstract deadline: April 16, 2017
Notification of acceptance: May 16, 2017
Full-paper submission: October 1, 2017
Registration deadline: October 1, 2017

Please send 200-300 word abstracts by 31 March 2017.
Please include a short biography (max 100 words)

Indicate in your submission whether you are interested:

-in the YECREA event
-sessions jointly organized with ICC
-being considered for the special issue “Migration and communication flows: rethinking borders, conflict and identity through the digital”

Submit your abstract + bio to, indicate in your email header
[Submission last name + paper title]


Irati Agirreazkuenaga, PhD
ECREA Diaspora, Migration and the Media Vice Chair
Assistant professor information genres, radio speech & corporate communication
Graduate Social Communication Programme, Department of Journalism
University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, Spain

Koen Leurs, PhD
ECREA Diaspora, Migration and the Media Chair
Assistant professor gender & postcolonial studies
Graduate Gender Programme, Department of Media & Culture
Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Kevin Smets, PhD
ECREA Diaspora, Migration and the Media Vice Chair
Assistant professor in media and culture
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium 
Postdoctoral fellow, Research Foundation Flanders, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Melis Mevsimler, MA
ECREA Diaspora, Migration and the Media Young Scholar Representative
PhD student Digital Crossings in Europe. Gender, Diaspora and Belonging 
Utrecht University, the Netherlands