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7AAVDC06 Mobility, Culture and Digital Media

Module convenor: Dr Peter Chonka 
Teaching pattern: Ten one-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars
Module description:

Mobility, Culture and Digital Media introduces students to the relationship between new media, human mobility, culture and identity. It addresses key academic and public debates including the supposed failure of multicultural policies in Western Europe, the hardening of European borders, and broader questions about human rights and global inequality in a century that is often described as dominated by new forms of global mobility. 

The first half of this module will uncover some of the most urgent political, cultural and social implications of global mobility, including the definition of Europe as a 'gated continent', the shift from multiculturalism to post-multiculturalism, and the relationship between democracy, human rights, and (post) multicultural policies.  The second half of the module will examine the human face of globalisation, and the convergence of migration and digital interactive media in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. While in the past migration often meant a radical detachment from the community of origin, migrants can now remain connected through transnational networks and virtual forms of connectivity. Online, migrants acquire voice and political agency, share memories of their homeland, and create webs of solidarity and support. In parallel, digital media are powerful socio-technical tools through which migrants can maintain and build ties with individuals belonging to the same culture, sustain their transcultural social capital and connect transnational and local spaces.

The module will allow students to gain a broad understanding of the political, social and economic dimensions of globalization and the social shaping of technology in relation to mobility, social change and identity in western and non-western contexts. Students will also be introduced to the relationship between social media and macro processes such as migration, thus developing the necessary critical skills for understanding the relevance of diasporas as important actors in global and domestic affairs. By looking at the impact of digital technologies in supporting migrants' socio-economic and political contributions, students will learn what digital diasporas are doing, how they are doing it, what their impacts are, and how they are influencing national and international affairs. 

Draft teaching syllabus

Week 1: Mobility, Culture and Digital Media: an introduction

Week 2: Culture and Ethnicity in the Media

Week 3: New mobilities and critical approaches: borders, walls, fortresses

Week 4: From Multiculturalism to Post-Multiculturalism

Week 5: Digital Democracy and (Post) Multiculturalism

Week 6: Digital diasporas 1: Europe

Week 7: Digital Diasporas 2: Asia

Week 8: Digital Diasporas 3: Middle East

Week 9: Diasporic minorities and the Media

Week 10: Summary

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Allow students to gain a broad understanding of the political, social and economic dimensions of globalization in relation to mobility, social change and identity in western and non-western contexts;
  • Develop students’ understandings of digital technology’s role in reconfigurations of identity, spatiality, the local and the global, and narratives of social and cultural transformations;
  • Provide a rich and detailed overview of some of the key debates in today’s society, especially in relation to digital surveillance and digital democracy;
  • Provide an analytical framework to enable students to critically examine the potential of new media for ethnic minorities and migrants around the world.

Learning outcomes

 At the end of the module, students will be expected to:

  • Have a systematic understanding of the political, economic and cultural implications of the convergence between globalization and digital media;
  • Demonstrate their theoretically-informed critical skills pertaining to the main debates surrounding the relationship between new media, culture and society;
  • Develop a critical understanding of new media in relation to questions of mobility, identity and so-called 'virtual' identity;
  • Possess the analytical skills required for interpreting the rise and visibility of digital diasporas outside of Europe, and specifically in the Middle East

Core reading

  • Aouragh, M. (2011). Palestine Online. Transnationalism, the Internet and the construction of identity, New York: I.B. Tauris.
  • Bauböck, R., and Faist, T. (2010). Diaspora and Transnationalism: Concepts, Theories and Methods, Amsterdam University Press.
  • Brinkerhoff, J. (2009). Digital Diasporas. Identity and Transnational Engagement, New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Georgiou, M., Bailey, O., and Harindranath, R. (2007). Transnational lives and the media: re-imagining diasporas, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
  • Lyon, D. (2003) Surveillance as Social Sorting. Privacy, risk, and digital discrimination, London: Routledge.
  • Papacharissi, Z. (2010). A Private Sphere: Democracy in a Digital Age, Malden, MA: Polity Press.
  • Terranova, T. (2004) Network culture: politics for the information age, London: Pluto Press.
  • Urry, J. (2007). Mobilities, Cambridge: Polity Press (Chapter 1).
  • Van Dijck, J. (2013) The culture of connectivity: a critical history of social media, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.


1 x 4,000 word critical analysis

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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