Call for papers: Workshop on “Using images in migration research”

08 March 2016

This workshop is organised by the IMISCOE Standing Committee on Popular Art, Diversity and Cultural Policies in Post-Migration Urban Settings (POPADIVCIT). It will be held at the 13th IMISCOE annual conference in Prague, 30 June - 2 July 2016. 


We live in a world of images and sounds. We are all confronted directly in our daily life with lots of images and sounds produced, mediated and distributed through various channels such as internet, radio, television, cinema, newspapers, exhibitions, DVD, etc. Such images also have a major impact on the construction and representation of migration. It seems obvious that all the images dealing with migration have to be related with the attitudes of the general public towards migration and migrants. Remember the clusters of Albanians on a boat on their way to Italy on the front page of Time Magazine in 1991? It really struck the opinion and created a fear of invasion not only in Italy, but also elsewhere in Europe and in the world. More recently, images of the exodus provoked by the changes of regimes in the Arab world have fuelled similar fears. At the same time, the picture of a Syrian child dead on a Greek beach attracted compassion all over the planet.

There is a huge literature coming from many different disciplines, including communication and media studies, cultural studies and film studies, where images of migration are discussed from various perspectives. Communication and media studies explain and analyse the process of production, diffusion and reception of images and sounds and how they can affect our social behaviour and our attitudes in the field of migration, amongst many others. For example, Rodney Benson argues that the public debates on immigration have become increasingly focused on the dramatic, emotional dimensions as well as on issues related to security and public-order, both in France and in the United States. This does not only hold true for the media, but also for other social and political channels. Since most citizens rely in particular on the media to be informed, the terms of media debates certainly shape citizens’ views on migration. At the same time, the images used in this process are often more multifaceted than implied in the context where they are used, as Stuart Hall has highlighted in his studies on the construction and de-construction of meaning in photos of Black immigrants in Britain. He showed not only how images were used to construct these immigrants as a problem, but also how a careful reading of these images reveals narratives not implied in these constructions, such as the immigrants’ hopes and dreams (Hall 1984). Such counternarratives
are also intentionally created in documentaries and films dealing with migration. For instance, Andrea Segre’s documentaries focusing on migration from Africa to Europe, such as Mare chiuso/Closed Sea, move beyond the well-known image of the overfilled boats floating in the Mediterranean Sea to tell the individual stories of the people taking these boats (Ardizoni 2013). In addition, films, such as Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre, create Utopian visions of workers and policemen understanding the plight of refugees (Ceuterick 2014).

These manifold insights into how images are used to construct realities will serve as a starting point for a workshop that aims to bring together migration researchers from different disciplines in a fruitful exchange on research methods, results and dissemination focusing on images of migration in these processes. This exchange will involve three issues:

1) How can social sciences and cultural studies learn from each other concerning the use of images (photographs, films, videos, drawings) in the process of producing academic knowledge about migration, integration and ethnic relations?

2) How can social sciences and cultural studies learn from each other concerning the use of images in the dissemination of research results in order to increase their public impact?

3) How can both fields collaborate with artists to create new images of migration?

The workshop will include academic papers on images of migration (with a particular focus on refugee movements), an interdisciplinary exchange on communicating research results and a dialogue between academics and artists (filmmakers and photographers) focusing on how research and the arts can inspire each other in creating new images of migration.

We invite proposals for academic papers on images of migration (with a particular focus on refugee movements). Proposals should be sent to Marco Martiniello (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Wiebke Sievers (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Ricard Zapata-Barrero (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by 15 April 2016.

The proposals should include the name and affiliation of the author and a short biography as well as the title and abstract of the proposed paper. The abstract should be no longer than 450 words and should explain the topic, the hypothesis and the theoretical and methodological approach of the proposed paper.

Proposers will be informed of whether their paper has been accepted by end of April 2016. Draft papers are due by 15 June 2016.

The standing committee has limited funding for travel and accommodation in Prague.

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