Media @ McGill

Media@McGill 2017-2018 Theme: Migrant Media

Submitted by Media@McGill on


The contemporary period calls our attention to the experience of migration — the movement of people, as well as the movement of animals and plants from one place to another. “Migrant Media” aims at understanding the relationship between media and migration. The 2017-2018 postdoctoral fellow will examine the materiality, forms and functions of media and mediation as they represent, perform and accompany beings in migration, and the manner in which migrants bear on practices and technologies of mediation. Media — elemental (earth, water, air and fire) or transportation media, mass media (print, the newspaper, radio, television, film), pictorial, textile, photographic, video or performance media, epistolary media, military media or digital media — invoke the promise of movement from one site to another: they entail the circulation, translation, transposition and disarticulation of “messages,” requiring technological devices and agents to enable the flow and transmission of these messages. At the same time, media are implicated in the construction, maintenance and circumvention of barriers to movement and migration. In what ways is the experience of migration simultaneously and necessarily an experience of mediation? And how do migrant media work as living environments?

Media are produced for and by people — emigrants, immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees, nomads, indigenous populations — mostly forced to move from one country, region, place, or locality to another for political, social, economic and psychological reasons. Transnational and international migration also takes the form of movement of commodities and speculative capital flows. People move daily from home to work and vice-versa, within the city, across borders, or between the city and the suburbs (migrations journalières). Some believe that souls migrate from one body to another. But migration is not simply a matter of humans on the move: nonhuman animal species annually migrate for food and reproduction, and plants migrate by dissemination. Considering the diversity and plurality of migration occurrences, how do media contribute to the development of transnational, diasporic and translocal lives? How can the very notion of “media” be extended to explain the mediating processes by which beings migrate? Beyond but also against mainstream media coverage and surveillance of human migrants, what do migrant media do? Are they a search for identity and cultural integrity; a means by which migrants attempt to negotiate borders, build or undo communities, make sense or lose sense of their lives, sometimes reinventing media in these very processes? How do they differ culturally and geographically? Do they challenge dichotomies of West versus East and North versus South? Are they green? Are today’s drones migrant media? How, when and why do migrant media succeed; how, when and why do they fail? In short, how, when and why do migrant media matter?