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Smartphones as personal digital archives? Recentring migrant authority as curating and storytelling subjects

Georgiou, Myria ORCID: 0000-0001-8771-8469 and Leurs, Koen (2022) Smartphones as personal digital archives? Recentring migrant authority as curating and storytelling subjects. Journalism, 23 (3). 668 - 689. ISSN 1464-8849

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Identification Number: 10.1177/14648849211060629


This article addresses the smartphone as a complicated technology of forced migration: a device that accompanies those who move, but which also records and catalogues digital traces within life contexts of conflict, uprooting, migration and resettlement. We conceptualise smartphones as personal digital archives: migrants’ curation of their own stories on their own portable devices. Personal digital archives, we argue, reflect the migrant gaze and constitute mobile subaltern subjects’ record of forced migration. Inductively learning from fieldwork conducted across five sites over 5 years, we analyse how the personal digital archive records and reflects the mediation of migration in its three dimensions: symbolic, affective and material. By focussing on personal digital archives, we recentre the authority of migrants as witnessing subjects of their own life stories. Their archives as autonomous migrant records provide a powerful basis to reflect upon and potentially contest mainstream western journalism cultures, which too often reduce migration to a spectacle and the migrant to a dehistoricised figure with little agency or voice.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: Funding Information: The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Koen Leurs received financial supported for the research, authorship, and publication of this article, through the National Research Agenda (NWA) Start Impulse funded project Media literacy through making media: A key to participation for young newcomers? (2017–2019), and the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Veni grant funded project Young connected migrants. Comparing digital practices of young asylum seekers and expatriates in the Netherlands, project reference 275-45-007 (2016–2019). The article also draws on research conducted within the project Resilient communities, resilient cities? Digital makings of the city of refuge (M. Georgiou – Principle Investigator; S. Hall – Co-Investigator; D. Dajani – Research Fellow; K. Kolbe – Research Assistant; the project also benefitted from fieldwork support by A. Koulaxi and P. Theorodopoulou in Athens). The project was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation in collaboration with the Institute of Global Affairs, LSE. © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2022 14:06
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2022 09:06

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