Lilie Chouliaraki and Myria GeorgiouOct 17, 2022
The Digital Border
Migration, Technology, Power
New York University Press 2022
How do digital technologies shape the experiences and meanings of migration?
As the numbers of people fleeing war, poverty, and environmental disaster reach unprecedented levels worldwide, states also step up their mechanisms of border control. In this, they rely on digital technologies, big data, artificial intelligence, social media platforms, and institutional journalism to manage not only the flow of people at crossing-points, but also the flow of stories and images of human mobility that circulate among their publics. What is the role of digital technologies is shaping migration today? How do digital infrastructures, platforms, and institutions control the flow of people at the border? And how do they also control the public narratives of migration as a “crisis”? Finally, how do migrants themselves use these same platforms to speak back and make themselves heard in the face of hardship and hostility?
Taking their case studies from the biggest migration event of the twenty-first century in the West, the 2015 European migration “crisis” and its aftermath up to 2020, Lilie Chouliaraki and Myria Georgiou offer a holistic account of the digital border as an expansive assemblage of technological infrastructures (from surveillance cameras to smartphones) and media imaginaries (stories, images, social media posts) to tell the story of migration as it unfolds in Europe’s outer islands as much as its most vibrant cities.
The Digital Border: Migration, Technology, Power (NYU Press, 2022) is a story of exclusion, marginalization, and violence, but also of care, conviviality, and solidarity. Through it, the border emerges neither as strictly digital nor as totally controlling. Rather, the authors argue, the digital border is both digital and pre-digital; datafied and embodied; automated and self-reflexive; undercut by competing emotions, desires, and judgments; and traversed by fluid and fragile social relationships—relationships that entail both the despair of inhumanity and the promise of a better future.
Lilie Chouliaraki is Professor of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, where she also serves as the department’s Doctoral Program Director. She is the author of several books, including The Spectatorship of Suffering and The Ironic Spectator, Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism and co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication
Myria Georgiou is Professor of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, where she also serves as Research Director. She is the author, editor, and co-editor of five books, including Diaspora, Identity and the Media; Media and the City: Cosmopolitanism and Difference; and the Sage Handbook of Media and Migration.
Padmapriya Vidhya-Govindarajan is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU Steinhardt. Her research interests lie at the intersection of environmental justice, digital and film cultures, and community media-use practices.