Sandra Ponzanesi

image © Maja Petric

Digital Belongings. Migration, Digital Practices and the Everyday

Sandra Ponzanesi (Utrecht University)



2021 NECS Online Lecture (2/5)

The Lecture will take place on Zoom, on February 25, 2021, at 18:00 CET (

In order to join the Zoom Session, please register using the following form: [link to the form]


While images of migration and destitution have consistently been spectacularized in the mainstream media, the voices, representations and practices of migrant themselves have often been relegated to alternative channels and reporting outlets, from the press to photography, cinema and social media.

At the height of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’, the digital passage to Europe  has highlighted the savviness and skills of migrants, often digital natives themselves, in resorting to digital media to manage their journey by retrieving information, accessing GPS and routing data, contacting smugglers, carrying out economic transactions, integrating into new forms of governance (Latonero and Kift, 2018; Gillespie et al., 2018; Smets and Leurs, 2018; Paz Alencar, 2018; Georgiou 2019).

However, less attention has been paid to the ‘banal’ ways in which migrants use digital technologies to keep in touch and stay connected with their peers and loved ones, through co-presence and diasporic affiliations that sustain bonds and forms of belonging across space and time (Madianou and Miller, 2012; Boccagni and Baldassar, 2015; Alinjead and Ponzanesi, 2020). Going beyond “high tech orientalism” (Chun, 2006) and “symbolic bordering” (Chouliaraki, 2017), this lecture will focus on the ways in which migrants appropriate and integrate digital technologies in their everyday lives in order to manage their local and transnational networks of belonging as media users, participants and content makers. What kinds of methods and tools would be useful to investigate these practices, keeping in mind affective, ethical and technological dimensions? Why foreground the everyday rather than the newsworthy and the state of exception? What kinds of affordances and platforms do we focus on and how do we facilitate articulation in preference to representation? What kinds of collaborative, creative or mixed methodologies do we review or develop before engaging with research on media and migration?

Drawing from gender, postcolonial studies, digital media and migration this lecture focuses on the various forms of cosmopolitan belongings that cut across borders and media platforms.


Sandra Ponzanesi is the Chair and Professor of Media, Gender and Postcolonial Studies at the Department of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. She is PI of the ERC project “Digital Crossings in Europe: Gender, Diaspora and Belonging” CONNECTINGEUROPE. The project investigates the relation between migration and digital technologies, focusing on how digital diasporas are created and performed in relation to issues of gender, ethnicity and affective belonging. It explores the way in which the ‘connected migrant’ contributes to new forms of European integration and cosmopolitan citizenship.

Her publications include: Paradoxes of Postcolonial Culture (Suny, 2004), The Postcolonial Cultural Industry (Palgrave, 2014), and Gender, Globalisation and Violence (Routledge, 2014). She co-edited Migrant Cartographies (Lexington Books, 2005), Postcolonial Cinema Studies (Routledge, 2012), Deconstructing Europe (Routledge, 2012), Postcolonial Transitions in Europe (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2016) and Postcolonial Intellectuals in Europe (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2018). She has also guest-edited several special issues on Europe, digital migration and cinema for peer-reviewed journals such as Social Identities, Crossings, Interventions, Transnational Cinemas, Popular Communication, Television and New Media, and International Journal of Cultural Studies. More info:


The recordings will be available under request by sending an email to graduates[at]