Master class

Connected migrants: encapsulation or cosmopolitanism

14 December 2016
Trippenhuis Building, Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam
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Prior to the Academy Colloquium on this subject a one-day master class (14 December 2016) will be organised, intended for PhD students, post-docs and early-career researchers from the Netherlands and abroad. The master class will equip participants with a solid theoretical grounding and methodological skillset to analyse migrant connectivity practices. Confirmed speakers are Farida Vis, Roopika Risam en Kishonna Gray.


Deadline for registration is 28 November 2016. Participation will be confirmed by 1 December 2016.


Every day, Europeans witness Syrian asylum seekers arriving on the beaches of Greek and southern Italian islands. TV news footage shows how newly arrived migrants use smartphones to happily announce their safe arrival on European soil to loved ones elsewhere. In response, prejudicial discourses about migrants have centred on smartphones; for example, anti-immigrant politicians frame refugees who own ‘luxury’ smartphones as less deserving of asylum.

In sharp contrast, tech-savvy expatriates migrating in more privileged circumstances are welcomed with open arms to help Europe prepare for the future. These two groups embody Europe’s Janus-faced character in an age when mobile technology is being celebrated for increasing communication speed and economic prosperity.

In our contemporary world, migrants should be considered ‘connected migrants’. More than ever before, they can choose between different technologies to be in touch with loved ones living in their country of origin. This colloquium will address how the digital practices of migrants revolve around the dialectic of encapsulation and cosmopolitanism.

Previously, scholars singled out one or another of these processes. Homophily, the assumption that ‘birds of a feather flock together’, is popular among those who argue that transnational communication hinders integration and leads to segregation and radicalisation. However, scholars also contend that migrants can be present in both their host society and their homeland.
Seen this way, migrants can connect with co‐ethnics to form bonding capital and also develop bridging, cosmopolitan capital by connecting with their host society. Although contested, cosmopolitanism is indispensable as a ‘grounded category’ to capture everyday reflexive imaginations of openness between self, other and world among elite and subaltern subjects.


Sandra Ponzanesi and Koen Leurs (Utrecht University)