How does the subaltern speak?
A critical humanist response for the times of migrant hypermediation
A Keynote for the New Media Aesthetics of Migration Workshop (workshop will follow keynote)
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
9:00 – 10:00 AM PT
Professor Myria Georgiou
London School of Economics and Political Science
[ Abstract ]
This talk focuses on digital representation of voice in the context of migration’s hypermediation. Thinking through a range of digital projects, it examines when and how migrant voice is being elevated to agentive recognition or reduced to a media trope. As digitalization has expanded migrant appearance in media spaces, the representational politics of migration has become more complex, raising questions about its implications for migrant recognition and respect. In fact, and as migrant voices increasingly appear across institutional and grassroot digital spaces, politics of representation cannot be fully captured through the binaries of voice/silence, or even through the representational patterns of the agentive or docile migrant. The changing digital representational politics of migration requires a shift of our enquiries. I argue that we need to move beyond questions such as: Does the subaltern speak? to: How does the subaltern speak and for whose benefit? This talk draws on research of digital representation of migration in Europe over the last five years. Initiated in my frustration over the narrow representation of migrant voices in many “well-intended” digital projects, this research has become an epistemological journey highlighting the importance of a critical humanist critique and praxis in research of digital migrant representation. A renewed critical humanism, I argue, considers voice and agency beyond the space of appearance (Butler 2015) and recognises migrants as reflexive agents but also as partners in the production of knowledge and representation. Speaking through concepts of respect and recognition, this critical humanist perspective contributes to the decolonization of knowledge on migration, first, by confronting the colonising gaze of mainstream representations, and second, by contesting them through conceptions and practice of cocreative and critical representations of migration. I will speak to the need of a critical humanist epistemology that calls for theoretical critique and committed praxis, by first analysing institutional and grassroots digital projects and then through sharing my experience within the storytelling project Digital city of refuge (www.digitalcityofrefuge.com).
[ About ]
Myria Georgiou is Professor in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Adopting a comparative and interdisciplinary approach, she is committed to putting the human of the urban, transnationally connected world at the core of her research. Specifically, in research conducted across 6 countries over the last 20 years, she has been studying communication practices and media representations that profoundly, but unevenly, shape meanings and experiences of citizenship and identity. Georgiou is the author and editor of five books, including Diaspora, Identity and the Media (2006); Media and the City: Cosmopolitanism and Difference (2013); and The Sage Handbook of Media and Migration (2020, ed., with K. Smets, K. Leurs, S. Witteborn and R. Gajjala).