Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration
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Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration

Edited by Katharyne Mitchell, Reece Jones and Jennifer L. Fluri

Border walls, shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, separated families at the border, island detention camps: migration is at the centre of contemporary political and academic debates. This ground-breaking Handbook offers an exciting and original analysis of critical research on themes such as these, drawing on cutting-edge theories from an interdisciplinary and international group of leading scholars. With a focus on spatial analysis and geographical context, this volume highlights a range of theoretical, methodological and regional approaches to migration research, while remaining attuned to the underlying politics that bring critical scholars together.
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Chapter 26: Social media and Rwandan migration: a moral epistemology of return

Saskia Kok and Richard Rogers


This study examines how social media data may be used to study ‘connected migration’, and how migration research may benefit from relying on digital data for social and political inference. It explores the Rwandan diaspora’s engagement on Facebook, by questioning the potential of social media to either give voice to or silence (parts of) the diasporic community. The study is based on a cross-disciplinary approach, drawing on debates in media and migration studies. Through an online network and content analysis, the authors illustrate how the Rwandan process of voluntary repatriation and return has arguably (re)constituted refugees residing in the diaspora both as citizens and members of the nation, and ‘agents of change’. It is argued that the nation-building narrative of unity and reconciliation, afforded by social media and driven by the Government of Rwanda as well as its diaspora, puts on display a particular depoliticization of repatriation and an absence of the critical voice. Resulting from the theoretical and empirical findings, the authors develop a normative approach called a ‘moral epistemology of return’, which seeks to specify how displacement is conceived, politicized and mediated with social media. It pertains to how knowledge about the opportunities and consequences of repatriation towards one’s homeland are constructed and communicated on a well-known social media platform.

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