Affective Multimodalities and Post-Colonial

Connectivities with Transnational Youth Migrants

Unaccompanied minors, a group identified to be vulnerable and at-risk, step into adulthood in a climate of crisis talks to be often associated with being and becoming a risk to their hosting societies. As the current media and policy discourses distract the attention from examining how state policies produce more vulnerabilities restricting claims to seek for asylum, still little is known on these young asylum-seekers’ social-emotional and intellectual life-worlds as they come of age. 

Located at the intersection of three key literatures—Multimodal Anthropology, Digital Media Ethnographies and Postcolonial Thought—the research offers original insights into the lived experiences of transnational refugee youth migrating from their home countries to Europe and beyond, via Turkey.Building up on the author’s SNSF funded PhD project, the new research project will be exploring how former unaccompanied asylum-seeking youth come of (digital) age once they leave state care protection in Turkey, as they turn 18. 

In prioritising the youth’s narratives of affect the research offers rich empirical insight into the creative actions and strategic decisions made by youth at various stages throughout their migration journey. Through a postcolonial lens, the study aims to look at bordering practices and their media mediations in discourses and visual images alongside to newly introduced technological applications of intra-state surveillance (E-Borders; Biometrics, Information Systems and Militarization with heavy weaponry of tanks and mine fields), across multiple media platforms. 


Building on Sandra Ponzanesi’s digitally (re)mapping media mediations in relation to postcolonial connectivities (Ponzanesi 2019, 2020) the research suggests applying mattering maps as a method that is used to track and visualize traces of a key issue across web platforms (Google Search results, Facebook pages and Instagram Posts) which also integrates analysis of face-to-face interview responses of actors taking part within the key issue (Alinejad et al.2019).


Thus, the ongoing research suggests bringing in a new methodology Affective Multimodalities (developed during Dr.Eda Elif Tibet's Phd field work) as a concept complementing earlier work done on affect and affective regimes. By bringing in the lens of multimodality for; 1) Mapping the discursive media construction of affective state regimes towards the controlling of refugee migration; 2) To showcase transnational refugee youth’s personal and collective responses (in relation to their own political assemblages) to state actions in their own actions of affect  and in their own migration mediation practices through the various media multi-modalities they are producing and are engaged within. Both, will be looked in relation to two key events; The Great Migration of Summer (2015) and the Great Migration of Winter (2020).

The project particularly illuminates on how various affective multimodalities influence transnational refugee youth’s life trajectories after leaving state care shelter; from deportation, to resettlement (USA), to reaching Europe on one’s own and to remain in Turkey. 


Some of the multimodal media practices are ; videos, photographs, pod casts, radio shows, social media posts as live stories and notifications, articles, blog pieces, GPS mappings and google map sharing under certain hashtags.


Through a multimodal and multi-sited digital ethnography (between 2021-2024) that brings both qualitative and quantitative data in an empirically driven investigation, the study will sensitively reflect and draw on interpretive epistemologies with feminist research ethics (Alinejad et al.2019:21). Study results will be shared and disseminated within a virtually interactive, audio visual data story aside to textual publications.


Alinejad, Donya & Candidatu, Laura & Mevsimler, Melis & Minchilli, Claudia & Ponzanesi, Sandra & Van Der Vlist, Fernando N. (2019) Diaspora and mapping methodologies: Tracing Transnational Digital Connections with `Mattering Maps`, Global Networks, 19 (1) 21-43pp.  


Ponzanesi, Sandra (2019) Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: (Re) Mapping Connectivity and Belonging, Television & New Media, 20 (6) 547-557pp.


Ponzanesi, Sandra (2020) Digital Diasporas: Postcoloniality, Media and Affect, Interventions, International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 22 (8), 977-993pp.

Written by Dr.Eda Elif Tibet

Abbas Karimi, a former unaccompanied asylum seeker and research participant whom we met in Istanbul, Turkey during field work (2015-2016) . Karimi has produced a wide array of multimedia to be heard in seek of a sponsor and thus  have been able to arrange for his resettlement to the US with the UNHCR. Today Karimi becomes the first refugee Paralympic swimming champion. He co-creates media work and narrations like this one , with various channels and organisations mediating strength and endurance. We currently collaborate on an interactive multimodal website  for Abbas Karimi's refuge and swimming journey.
A participatory film made by unaccompanied minors in Turkey as part of SNSF PhD Dissertation by Eda Elif Tibet with " Team No Borders".