Published OnlineEdited and Accepted Articles

Interfacing-with-Difference: Young Refugees Negotiating Cultural Differences in Cities and on Their Smartphones / Koen Leurs, Jeffrey Patterson

Koen Leurs
Assistant Professor, Gender and Postcolonial Studies, Utrecht University, the Netherlands


Jeffrey Patterson
Student International Postgraduate Program, Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies, Utrecht University, the Netherlands


Reference this essay: Leurs, Koen and Jeffrey Paterson. “Interfacing-with-Difference: Young Refugees Negotiating Cultural Differences in Cities and on Their Smartphones.” In Urban Interfaces: Media, Art and Performance in Public Spaces, edited by Verhoeff, Nanna, Sigrid Merx, and Michiel de Lange. Leonardo Electronic Almanac 22, no. 4 (March 15, 2019).
Published Online: March 15, 2019
Published in Print: edit
ISBN: edit
ISSN: 1071-4391
Repository: edit

In this article we propose the concept interfacing-with-difference to address how young refugees living in cities negotiate cultural differences in public spaces and through using their smartphones. These encounters involve culturally diverse bodies, mobile media technologies, past-present-future temporalities and on- and offline, local and transnational spaces. Media, urban, migration, and gender studies are brought into dialogue to understand better this relational and power-ridden process. The concept is grounded in empirical data gathered through qualitative interviews and photo-elicitation with 42 informants. Fieldwork was focused on informants co-researching their own smartphones as personal pocket archives. We take a situated, intersectional approach to data analysis, in seeking to understand how factors including gender, race, class, sexuality, age, nationality among others co-construct each other and altogether have an impact upon their transnational connectivity, digitally mediated encounters with local difference and memory-making in a broader context of becoming in(visible) in urban spaces.

Keywords:  Interfacing-with-difference, young refugees, smartphone pocket archives, intersectionality



Figure 1: #Schizophrenia, Koen Leurs, 2017. Screenshotted Instagram post selected by Amani from her smartphone pocket archive. Photograph by Koen Leurs. © Koen Leurs, 2017.

In figure 1, we see the hands of Amani, a 19-year-old Syrian-Dutch young woman, holding her smartphone. During an in-depth interview, Koen (the article’s first author) asked Amani to select an important photo from her smartphone archive that represented her arrival in the Netherlands. Amani selected a painting she made, which she had photographed and posted on Instagram with the hashtag #schizophrenia. This painting captures her feelings, in her words: “I paint when I’m sad, or when I have an idea, and would like to share it.” She continued to explain the painting depicting her situation, a blacked-out faceless female figure covered in a scarf, spreading one arm to welcome the unknown. This was her personal trajectory: after fleeing the Syrian war and arriving in the Netherlands two years prior, she described she constantly felt she had to negotiate between different cultural, societal and political norms and expectations. First, she had been resettled in a rural area; later she moved to a large city. She had to develop literacies to navigate between rural Dutch fears of strangers and urban openness, individual self-development and familial obligations, and peer and community expectations. This was compounded by Arabic, English and Dutch language demands, and seemingly opposing orientations including Syrian-Muslimness, Dutch Judeo-Christianity and secularism, liberal gender and sexuality, transnational connections and urban youth culture.

Amani’s painting – which she circulated online – illustrates how refugee youth living in cities are actively interfacing-with-difference in public spaces and through the screens of their smartphones. Here, we consider young refugees’ smartphones as an archive of their interfacing processes. The smartphone pocket archive is a record of their daily experiences, encounters, feelings and sensations. For example, during our interview, Amani showed pictures of her culturally diverse friend group going to the pool in the Netherlands, photos with her Syrian family and friends – some of whom she lost during the civil war, a photo taken in her bedroom showing her Quran, a table decorated with rose petals, and a photo of her lunch which included Syrian food and drink glasses resembling the ones she had in Syria. Amani’s smartphone is a personal pocket archive, which we used to co-research how she interfaces-with-difference.

This article repurposes the term interfacing as a lens to address the dynamic and plural interrelationships between city-making, living in and amongst diverse populations and mediating life through mobile devices. For this purpose, we propose a processual and relational understanding of interfacing. While previously the notion of the interface – as a noun – was mainly used to address affordances of technological interfaces in studies of human-computer-interaction (HCI), in recent years, media scholars have expanded their understanding of interfaces towards the “spatial form that is tied to a broader set of social and cultural dynamics.” [1] We take cues from the feminist theorist Donna Haraway, who in her important 1985 Cyborg Manifestooffers a broader interpretation of interfaces as active processes:

No objects, spaces, or bodies are sacred in themselves; any component can be interfaced with any other if the proper standard, the proper code, can be constructed for processing signals in a common language … home, workplace, market, public arena, the body itself – all can be dispersed and interfaced in nearly infinite, polymorphous ways. [2]

The ‘polymorphous ways’ in which the body can be ‘interfaced’– as a verb – with objects and other people refers to a spatial formation that is actively brought into being: interfacing-with-difference is a common prerequisite for contemporary urban co-habitation. So we take interfacing to refer to processes of co-construction between people, technologies, and space-making in situated contexts. The city presents a particularly relevant site to develop a situated understanding of interfacing-with-difference, as urban studies scholars have long conceptualized cities in terms of dealing with difference and living among strangers. [3] The city, as a plural, dynamic urban space is relationally produced through living in co-existence with others, reflecting what the cultural geographer Doreen Massey describes as the ‘power-geometries’ of social life. [4] We theorize interfacing-with-difference, by looking at how contemporary city-life, shaped by a “contemporaneous existence of a plurality of trajectories” is actively technologically mediated. [5] Urban power-geometries are co-shaped through intersecting axes of difference including age, gender, race and nationality. Gender and migration scholar, Nira Yuval Davis, proposes employing a “situated intersectional analysis” to account for spatially situated dynamics, which “does not homogenize or reify boundaries of localities or groupings. It takes into consideration the situated gazes of particular people in relation to their own social locations and social well-being.” [6]

Our focus on smartphone use among young refugees – rather than signaling technological exceptionalism – must be considered in a longer lineage of historical forms of interfacing-with-difference, which include urban modes of cultural expression and mediation such as graffiti, clothing, music and dance. Today, smartphones are low-threshold “public witnessing devices” that can be used to navigate, archive and make claims to the city, identity and transnational belonging. [7] Scholars have recently begun exploring the potential of how “smartphones contribute to social change,” [8] but little is known about whether or not smartphone uses may halter or foster ‘reciprocity,’ between the self and the other, between the self and ‘alterity’ or “ideas of ‘otherness.’” [9]

The article is structured as follows: In the first section, we conceptualize interfacing-with-difference by drawing on theories of mediation and particularly personal digital archiving, super-diversity and intersectionality. Subsequently, we sketch the fieldwork setting and introduce our methodological approach. In the third section, we analyze how young urban refugees interface-with-difference through their smartphone pocket archives.


Theorizing Interfacing + Difference

The word interface is comprised of the word ‘face’ and the prefix ‘inter,’ which means ‘between’ and emphasizes relationality between two or more faces. In common parlance, the term interface has come to stand for technological devices and applications that bring people together in a mediated exchange. For example, the Apple application FaceTime brings faces in close proximity through a digitized screen. Through digital practices, young urban refugees interface-with-difference, and this article explores how these processes may establish “a shared space of exchange and dialogue” while also acknowledging interfacing may be “a site of contestation and tension.” [10] In this section, we seek to bridge unfolding debates in the fields of migration, media, urban, memory and gender studies. First, we address the importance of politicizing smartphones as pocket archives. Second, we establish how young urban refugees live in a context of cultural diversity and increasingly express their identities across offline spaces, digital networks and personal archives. We take intersectionality as a way to operationalize our relational understanding of super-diversity, space- making in the urban city and personal digital archiving as shaped by axes of difference including age, race, generation, sexuality, and nationality.

We approach digital interfacing-with-difference in the city through technological mediation, and thereby foreground our attention to relationality. Following Eugenia Siapera, we contend that cultural identification and encountering cultural differences do not happen in a vacuum and can never be directly apprehended. [11] These processes happen in an urban world saturated with mobile devices and connectivity, so difference is only to be perceived “through the ways in which it is mediated.” [12] Mediation is a dialectical process, it “involves a constant tension between control and/or containment of cultural diversity and defiance, opposition to, but also negotiated acceptance of, such efforts.” [13] We focus in particular on how cities may be documented and archived on the smartphones of young urban refugees. This is an urgent entry-point, as scholars have yet to embrace the complexities of minority community archives and histories. [14] Media and memory studies scholars are trying to understand whether the abundance of digital archives means ‘the end of forgetting’. Similarly, researchers are trying to account for how smart cities are evolving by problematizing celebratory accounts of the “digital destiny” of urban life [15] There is increased awareness about the digital labor required to participate in such cities and the shallow values of social media governed ‘platform societies’ and the exploitation and commercialization of our memories on social media ‘memory platforms.’ [16] Theoretical and empirical research focusing on bottom-up smart-city-making or contestation and every day, grounded experiences of the workings of archival power is however scarce. [17]

A reconsideration of personal digital archives beyond the digital industry is politically urgent. In order to respond to the economic imperative and to “politicize the question of archives,” [18] the media theorist Yuk Hui emphasizes a careful re-assessment of personal digital archives is important:

Today, in order to take care, one must think of the archive as the exteriorization of our memories, gestures, speeches, and movements … [forms of technological capitalism]  hide away the politics of individuals (both human and technical) under the disguise of  ‘users’ and ‘tools’ … it is necessary to move the question of the personal archive to a  new level of discourse … Emphasizing the personal archive is a proposal to return  agency to human individuals, but not stopping there. Instead, it proposes a return in order to develop a new form of collectivity. [19]

Through creating and sharing personal digital archives which include selfies, postings, links and videos, young urban refugees interface-with-difference. Such “mediated cultural productions” of displaced subjects and groups merit greater attention for “their role in supporting hegemonic ideologies of racial and gender stratification but also in challenging these systems through politics of resistance.” [20]

Young refugees living in the Dutch Randstad area experience a situation of ‘super-diversity.’ [21] The Randstad is the megalopolis consisting of the four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) and surrounding urban areas, where historical and contemporary demographic shifts shape an everyday situation of multiculturalism and conviviality. For example, in the port city of Rotterdam, ethnic minorities are in the majority, and Utrecht and Amsterdam are also increasingly culturally diverse. In these urban settings, young refugees’ interfacing-with-difference does not revolve around a process of linear assimilation into a homogenously white Dutch community of peers. [22] Rather, their settling in and finding a place where they belong increasingly takes place “in a context of increased diversity within diversity.” [23]  ‘Super-diversity’ as a term invites researchers to move beyond addressing a particular ‘ethnic group’ and how it connects with other bounded groups. Rather, it seeks to foreground a multidimensional approach to how individuals across various groups interact or diverge. [24] In seeking to integrate into a new setting, displaced young people engage in a two-way dialogue and exchange with new urban and digital communities they enter.

We take a similar relational approach to interfacing-with-difference as urban space-making. As Massey notes, urban space is plural, and dynamically produced through the interaction and co-existence with others. [25] City dwellers experience a situation of ‘throwntogetherness,’ living in close proximity to people who identify with other age, racial, class and religious groups. This difference is experienced through encountering people and how they mediate themselves, creating the city as an on- and offline space shaped by a “simultaneity of stories-so-far.” [26] The term urban ‘public space’ refers here both to on- and offline super-diverse space – think of urban domains where people from various backgrounds come together, such as city squares, libraries, parks, but also shopping streets –as well as social media and smartphones which have added to a recent transformation of the relationship between individuals, groups and space. Urban public space has increasingly become a ‘portable space,’ the space where users of smartphones and apps engage in social interactions. [27] Portable space is shaped by what dana boyd describes as ‘network publics.’ [28] Networked publics are groups of people algorithmically assembled through shared interests, affinities or location-based practices; it is both the online constructed space and the community that exists due to the intersection of people, technology, and practice. [29]

For example, digital migration scholars have demonstrated that ‘connected migrants’ simultaneously maintain transnational digital publics to connect with people from their own community across distance, as well as to locally connect across difference. On the one hand we observe social bonding, also referred to as ‘encapsulation,’ aimed to foster and maintain pre-existing social networks within a transnational family or diasporic communities. [30] Migrant digital publics allow for a sense of “transnational co-presence.” [31] Social bridging, or ‘cosmopolitanization,’ [32] happens when young refugees connect with community members of another sense of identity, for example in establishing new local, ‘experiential’ connections with peers in the city of settlement. [33] Although these conceptualizations to space making differ in their foci, the notions brought forward here draw upon relational and dialectical considerations of interaction, strategic self-presentation and visibility among individuals in which interpersonal relationships are facilitated and regulated.

Besides participating in digital publics to be simultaneously ‘here’ and ‘there’ which is of particular importance in the lives of migrants, smartphones and social media platforms play another central role during the coming-of-age for young refugees. The rite-of-passage from childhood to adulthood can be challenging for young people in general, in trying to come to terms with questions of identity, sexuality and friendships. For young refugees who simultaneously embody continuity and change, these processes become additionally charged with questions pertaining to race, discrimination, nationality, language and generation. [34] The concept of intersectionality, brought forward by the black feminist theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw – but dating back to speeches of Maria Stewart in 1831 and Sojourner Truth in 1851 – allows us to recognize subordination and identification revolving around axes including age, generation, gender, race, class, and religion operate simultaneously and co-construct each other. [35] The “intersectional turn” has not gained currency among the mainstream of digital media scholarship, [36] a “relative dearth of research on intersectionality and technology” remains. [37] In this article, intersectionality is used to analyze the fieldwork data in search of recognizing how interfacing-with-difference revolves around specific geographically situated “processes and mechanisms by which subjects mobilize (or choose not to mobilize) particular aspects of their identities in particular circumstances”; [38] as well as the fore- and backgrounding of intra-group differences and group belongings, of how young refugees navigate “the tension between assertions of multiple identity and the ongoing necessity of group politics.” [39]

Transposed to the context of social media platforms, intersectionality also makes us attentive to the persistence of myriad digital divides, in terms of ownership, access and literacies as well as participation. As the critique of refugee selfie takers as non-intended users of smartphones already illustrated, platform templates, drop-down menu options, and user majorities configure online power relations. [40] Simultaneously intersectional approaches have demonstrated moments of agency and identification in digitally mediated migrant lives: for example, Alexander Dhoest took an intersectional approach in his study with lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) migrants in Belgium and found that his informants performed themselves as complex multidimensional individuals and collectives who selectively foreground specific axis for specific audiences and contexts. [41] Thus, intersectionality will allow us to attend to the complex and fluid interrelationships between axes of power and how young urban refugees interface-with-difference.


Methodological Considerations
We elaborate the concept of living-with-difference by grounding it in experiences shared by 42 informants living in urban cities in the Netherlands. Informants became involved in the study through snowball sampling. Part of the group got involved during a media literacy program taught in their school. [42] 17 young women and 25 men joined our study. They are on average 19,5 years old. The majority fled from various Syrian cities and towns including Damascus, Douma and Aleppo, but among the participants are also individuals from Yemen, Guinea and Iraqi Kurdistan among other places. At the moment of fieldwork, they had resided in the Netherlands anywhere between six months and three years. Most but not all had obtained formal refugee status. We are wary and critical of the social sorting of mobile populations in general. In particular, the ‘categorical fetishism’ aiming to distinguish between ‘economic’ migrants and ‘legitimate’ refugees in particular, has real-life consequences and does not do justice to the complex and interrelated political, economic, social and cultural drivers of migration. [43] Throughout the article, we include the self-identifications and narratives of the informants to emphasize they are uniquely situated individuals.

In the aim of developing a participatory action approach attuned to interfacing-with difference, informants were invited to research their own smartphones as personal pocket archives. [44] They selected and annotated material from their personal archives – most notably photographs – which was a productive process that also elicited reflective narratives of identity, belonging, aspiration and marginalization. All participants signed consent forms, and consent was obtained for minors when parents or guardians were available. Interviews took place mostly in Dutch and English, with a few exceptions for those conducted in Arab. With permission, interviews were recorded. Recordings were transcribed ad-verbatim, thematically coded in the qualitative data analysis software NVivo, and interpreted using a grounded theory approach. Names included in the article are pseudonyms, mostly chosen by the participants themselves.

Interfacing-with-Difference in Practice
Amani was cited in the beginning of this article, her Instagram posting and reflection on her #Schizophrenia painting captures the complex challenge of how young refugees actively interface with difference. She is enrolled in the two-year International Transition Classes school program which offers Dutch language training and prepares young migrants to enroll in regular Dutch education. During our interview, she explains how in recent months she was unable to invest time in her studies, because she had to assist her mom, who had fallen seriously ill: “My mom is not able to speak the language. I have to do everything, so I have a lot on my plate. Yes, I have to choose my studies, decide about my future and I have to take care of my mom. So all of that really adds up.” Amani came to the Netherlands as a minor, and was able to file for asylum and bring over her mother, father, brother and sister through a family reunion scheme. She first fled to Turkey, but wanted to travel onwards to Europe: “Because I was 17 I knew I could bring my family over. So I turned to Google and searched for the best things for refugees in Europe. I read about Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. I read the Netherlands is a country where people speak English very well. So I thought that could be a good first step for me, because I could speak English. When you speak English you get help from the IND (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst [Immigration and Naturalization Service]) more quickly too.” In this empirical section we tease out various threads emerging from Amani’s experience that also tie into the themes emerging from our thematic analysis of the fieldwork data.


Interfacing across Transnational Space and Time

“Although I live in the Netherlands, my mind stays with the people who are there [in Syria],” Amani shares. “I know what happens. Almost every day I talk with people living there. So I miss my country, I miss the people who are there. But I can listen to their voice through my phone. That is important.” Transnational connectivity, mediated through the smartphone and messenger applications like WhatsApp, Viber, and Skype and social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram, is considered important by all participants. Such processes have received growing attention from scholars interested in how migrants are “doing family” at a distance through embracing technological affordances to sustain a sense of “ICT mediated ordinary co-presence.” [45] Such analyses resonate with assumptions tied to the ongoing societal transformation towards a ‘network society,’ as famously articulated by Manuel Castells. [46] Networks “constitute the new social morphology of our society” he argues. [47] This transformation, accelerated by neoliberal capitalism, create ‘timeless time’ and a ‘space of flows,’ which form the “material foundations of a new culture.” [48] Digital technologies, for example, allow knowledge workers to collaborate with colleagues across the world, compress and experience time as non-linear and non-sequential and through networked deterritorialization traverse the boundaries of space. Key here are synchronous, instantaneous, frictionless, immaterial, and disembodied networked flows.

In sharp contrast, experiences of interfacing across time and space are paradoxical and often painful for young refugees. For example, the materiality of (dis)connectivity is also commonly mentioned. SouSou mentioned he lived in Guinea for four years separated from his mom who had fled political unrest around the 2013 national elections:

When my mom was here in the Netherlands I did not have a phone. We usually went to a friend of my mom in Africa to ask if she had heard anything from my mom. We asked her to put money on a phone. That phone we could use to text or to call people, but not to watch Facebook or Instagram like we do now. She didn’t talk only maybe once a month or week. When my mom was in the Netherlands our house burned down. It was very bad because of the civil war.

For SouSou a borrowed phone with a sim card that needed to be topped up with credit was his only interface to his mom living thousands of kilometers away. This is not a situation of ordinary transnational co-presence, but scholars have theorized how technologies may assist in surviving harsh situations of separation, through ‘mediation of hope’ waiting can be bearable. [49] However, in situations of conflict the non-universality of the network society becomes obvious. Contact is often infrequent and rudimentary, and as a result SouSou notes: “We had no idea about my mom when we came to the Netherlands. We didn’t see each other for a long time. It was hard.” Similarly, the eight years of civil war in Syria have severely impacted upon its communication infrastructure, and the government blacked out communications in specific areas. As Tarek shared, for example, living at distance from friends and family in Syria is emotionally challenging: “I’m always concerned. Sorry. If you’re home, you wouldn’t be stressed, you wouldn’t be sad, but that’s what’s happening to me. Sometimes I’m really sad, sometimes I’m really down, because I’m not home.” Lara uses Facebook Messenger to keep in touch with her friends and family living in Syria, however, she adds: “It is hard with the war. Because you do not have internet. Maybe two hours in a day there is internet.” Several informants mentioned their communication was asynchronous: messages would be sent on WhatsApp or other platforms, and responses could come anywhere between seconds to days later.

Besides negotiating temporary lack of internet access and connectivity, participants describe they are mindful about what they post and share. Interfacing-with-difference transnationally and locally revolves around avoiding ‘context-collapse,’ as content is directed to multiple audiences that are kept separate. [50] Giulio, for example, mentions maintaining several accounts: one where he publishes content directed at his “Syrian network,” and one with his “Dutch network” where he would for example share “selfies taken with his girlfriend.” Zeinah shares: “I usually use pictures which go with my personality and what I like, actually I don’t like posting or adding pictures of me as really I am.” She explains she is “not so happy to see my photo,” posting her photos feels trivial for her because her everyday life is very political and she feels “so involved in the war in Syria.” Amani similarly adjusts her digital identity to her intended audience: “Sometimes I like to take photos of food, but I don’t have Syrians who are in Syria. When I would have those people [on my account] I wouldn’t post those. You know, there are many people in Syria who don’t have food. That’s why I have only a few people on Instagram who are in Syria.” Others emphasize strategic disconnectivity, for example, SouSou is currently less oriented to his friends from Guinea “because I know how hard life was there. I’m trying to start a new life here in the Netherlands.” He adds this is particularly so for strangers contacting him:

Now there are those people that now that I am in Europe they want to contact me, and act as if they are my best friend. A couple of people are like that. But I just ignore those that do that. I only answer those that were kind to me before and those who were my real friends. Others, maybe they want something from me?

As someone who managed to settle in Europe, SouSou attracts a lot of attention. For those living in Guinea his online presence acts as a mediated exchange to fantasies of mobility and living another life in Europe. This was also the case for SouSou when he connected with his mom via phone. For those experiencing involuntary immobility establishing contacts with foreigners in the Global North allow a fantasy of “travelling through,” as Jena Burrell explains in her study on internet café’s frequented by urban Ghanaian youth: these contacts become a “departure point, either to online spaces or to subsequent physical destinations” abroad. [51] These examples illustrate how young refugees strategically perform their identities. Young refugees highlight several axes of identification and background others in addressing specific imagined communities, in an attempt at avoiding “context collapse.” [52] Banal content directed at local publics – snapshots of food and loved ones – which are important means to cement everyday peer relationships, could cause friction when accessed by members of their transnational digital publics living in hardship, war or poverty. [53]

Finally, digital practices also function as a paradoxical interface to the past. Lara spoke how the materiality of her smartphone was important to maintain her memories: “My phone is from Syria, not from here, that’s important to me. It is my memory of Syria.” Young refugees often took portable devices on their journeys. Personal phones have become important memory vessels, operating as personal pocket archives, as Obbay recounts:

I lost my photos before because my house was destroyed in Syria so I didn’t have as much photos of how it was my life there, and every day I really miss it, I really miss it. It’s really emotional to see the people around you, to see how was your life, it’s very important for me, so now I’m taking a lot of selfies and saving them in many places like my flash memory, my mobile phone, my laptop, so it will stay with me in the future.

Obbay’s interfacing with the past illustrates how war and conflict besides physical danger can have additional adverse consequences for the long-term future, as in his case when it meant he lost his smartphone pocket archive of photos. Digital memory making has been defined as the “active, subjective, organic, emotional, virtual and uncertain production of the past and present at the same time,” through which technology users are engaged in “age-old deferrals,” including ‘death,’  ‘endings,’ and ‘history.’ [54] For Obbay, losing his photos and memories of his life and his friends triggered a new desire of documentation and archiving his life in the Netherlands. This new impetus, again, demonstrates exactly the uncertainty and emotionality of pursuing deferrals through digital memory making in an attempt to achieve agency and to “control time, recollection, grief and trauma.” [55] In an attempt to control the possible effects of trauma and grief after having to uproot his life and move to the Netherlands, Ali decided to purchase a new smartphone upon arrival. Ali brought with him his smartphone from ‘home’ “…which is one of the transitional things that one used to be always with me.” Ali fled from the Middle-Eastern area, in his words: “I came because I am Palestinian I’m considered a refugee.” He shares: “… I still have my like, old number, that has WhatsApp, and old groups” but now he rarely checks it. Ali explains: “For some reason I don’t want to take the old stuff and put it in the new number … because, you know, we talked about being mentally stuck, and I want to be over that part.” Ali’s narrative highlights how, for some, the smartphone and social media are vessels to the past which can sometimes evoke an unwelcoming and unsettling embodiment of emotions.


Interfacing-with-generation, Gendered, Religious and Cultural Expectations
Besides transnational and local audiences, informants interface with distinct publics to manage generational, gendered, religious, and cultural expectations across different platforms. For example, SouSou keeps his parents and older members of the family separate from his friends by alternating between Facebook and Instagram. He notes, Facebook is “for old people, for example my mom or my brother. But Instagram, I follow only my friends here. Because Facebook, almost all parents are on Facebook, you know? But not on Instagram.” This remark reflects findings in previous studies on intergenerational continuity and change within migrant families. [56] Namely, SouSou’s preferences are not about static demographic differences, but they are shaped by his age-group and location, among others: “I keep my Instagram on the downlow, I can put some stuff on there and I don’t want to see the people following me on Facebook, you get that?” As such, “transnational cultural change across generations” is not a straight line from A to B but happens in concert with other “co-constitutional axes of migrant identifications.” [57]

In the section above we quote Zeinah mentioning she avoided posting selfies because of the civil war. She also mentions doing so because of her awareness of traditionally gendered expectations, as she notes in Syria “women were not very active on Facebook before the last 6-7 years.” Zeinah noticed a difference upon arriving in the Netherlands: “I found women to post much more here.” Similarly, Amani maintained distinct online profiles targeting specific groups in the Netherlands and Syria. Amani feels that now living in the Netherlands she negotiates between gendered, religious and cultural dictums: “I have a chance now, I have a chance to respect myself more, without anyone telling me you are a woman, stay at home.” In Syria she often experienced people narrating women as “worth half” to the worth of a man: “You know that in Islam some say the prophets have said that women have half a head, half a foot and half their faith. But that’s wrong. You know, we believe in the Quran, not about what some people have told. People use the faith to do what they want to do.” Offering nuance by comparing Syria and the Netherlands, she mentions that “there are Muslims who aren’t so strict, and there are those who are very strict, like some Christians [in the Netherlands].” However, Amani now feels she “now really [has] a chance to show myself. To explore who am I and what am I going to do.” Feeling strengthened by being in the Netherlands, she also feels confident to pursue gender equality in the Syrian community, which is urgent as she also realizes some of these “men here, because they were strong in Syria, have a difficult time here because women can study and work here.” Amani showcases her personality on Instagram by uploading photos of her artwork, and expressing her gender, religious and Syrian identity on her own terms.


Interfacing-with-difference Locally

This is my Facebook and this is my [profile] photo. This is the Netherlands, when I was new. I had a lot of hair then. I think this is a really good photo to show people, because it’s been 1,5 years since I got to the Netherlands. Until now I have kept this photo on my profile. I do it to show people I have started a new life. I have gotten many responses from people, both from people I know and those I don’t know.



Figure 2: “This is the Netherlands, when I was new,” Koen Leurs, 2017. Self-selected photo from smartphone pocket archive SouSou. Photograph by Koen Leurs. © Koen Leurs, 2017.

As an avid football player, SouSou has started his new life in the Netherlands by joining a local football club and making new friends, and alongside sports he uses social media to connect to a new peer group: “I try to establish contacts with people here in the Netherlands.” This sense of necessity and urgency of establishing new connections upon arrival was expressed by all informants, illustrating a great awareness of the societal and political pressure and expectations to quickly integrate into Dutch society, and to avoid replicating stereotypes of unruly refugees that are unwilling to adapt. This expectation of a “performative refugeeness” based on deservingness and gratefulness was most strongly voiced by two informants, Obbay and Mo. [58] Obbay studied piano at the conservatory of Homs in Syria before fleeing. He uses social media to establish new connections “because I am new here, and I have to be in touch with Dutch people as possible I can to do concerts, to keep in touch, to learn the language for example, it’s really means a lot to use this technology.” He is very outspoken about the need to connect with Dutch society, and he was successful in his self-promotion, as he was able to attract attention from mainstream media outlets, appearing and performing on two talk shows on Dutch national public television. Thus, as a successful cosmopolitan subject, Obbay with his preference and knowledge of western composers quickly managed to get accepted into a local conservatory in the Netherlands (see figure 3). Obbay derived his agency by highlighting specific axes of identification; it can be argued he became successful at interfacing-with-difference because he managed to perform himself as a young, international, Western-oriented professional, rather than a disenfranchised refugee. His carefully crafted image meets expectations of refugees that show happiness and gratefulness to Dutch society. Having to live up to unrealistic expectations of Dutch society to integrate (or rather to assimilate) and to behave as the ideal and exemplary refugee is a common source of frustration voiced by many informants.

Growing up singing and performing, Mo joined a gay men’s non-religious choir in Amsterdam with the aim of establishing and maintaining connections with the local Dutch gay community, both on- and offline. When Mo initially arrived in the Netherlands in December, Mo felt extremely lonely in the small village in which he was allocated to live: “In the Netherlands December is really dark days. Nobody just makes effort to interact with you,” and “then you’re alone. You don’t have anywhere to go to make connection and friends and that was a little bit tough … It was really depressive four months I can say.” Due to medical reasons, Mo found himself in the hospital where he met an American expatriate. He explained to Mo that the village they both lived in: “It’s not like Amsterdam,” insinuating Amsterdam as being a fairly open and accepting urban city of gay and refugee persons. Soon thereafter, Mo joined a choir and “that was the first step when everything started to change.” He shared: “I felt already like oh, this is nice. Everybody’s approaching me and everybody’s gay and they’re talking to me and they’re asking where I’m from.” The group only meets once a week therefore, he uses WhatsApp to communicate with the members of the choir throughout the week and Facebook to “receive all the homework that you have to prepare for the next rehearsal.” The social connection on- and offline between Mo and the other choir members is considered important for successful refugee integration. [59] What also helped Mo connect to the local Dutch gay community was when he was able to speak Dutch, which he learned through mandatory Dutch language training. Although learning the Dutch language is a process of ‘inburgering’ (an obligatory integration procedure for refugees), Mo “really wanted to speak Dutch” because he knew that would allow him to quickly integrate into Dutch society.


Figure 3: With Mr. Paul Witteman (Dutch TV personality), Koen Leurs, 2016. Self-selected photo from smartphone pocket archive Obbay. Photograph by Koen Leurs. © Koen Leurs, 2017.

For Amani, at first her experiences of interfacing-with-differences in the Netherlands were bleak. In the rural north of the Netherlands, people are very “closed.” When she asked for directions one time, she remembers being told “no, because you wear a head scarf. I cannot answer your question.” She was stupefied to be ignored just “because I’m a Muslim.” This experience changed drastically after moving from a camp in rural northern Netherlands towards the urban megalopolis Randstad area. “Here people are more open. Here they are more used to different cultures, countries and foreigners.” For her, striking up conversations and establishing contact with fellow urban dwellers is important. “Contact with Dutch people, makes me less depressive. I won’t have all the time to only think about Syria and the people there.” Amani has “428 followers” on Instagram, and among them, one hundred are Dutch peers. Such meaningful exchanges on the basis of commonalities including affinity for arts, sports or fashion are vital for the well-being for young urban refugees. As 16-year-old Farhan describes, establishing new alliances also serves other purposes: “Sometimes, people put up photos on Facebook, to demand a free Kurdistan, stuff like that. This is also what I do. Look I probably have thirty friends living in the Netherlands, maybe five in Germany, and probably five in Switzerland so they can see these photos. So they know about the existence of Iraqi Kurdistan, it’s my own country!” He mobilizes his local and transnational network to inform them about his political passions.

Terek shares a similar story to Amani’s, as he recalls experiencing covert racism when he was living in a small village before moving to Amsterdam. He explains: “some people have never seen an Arab there or like someone from Syria or someone who’s a bit different. So those people were racist but internally. They didn’t say it out loud.” He grounds his experiences in the fact that: “they were between thirty and forty years old or fifty … not coming a lot even to Amsterdam” and “they just know the image from the news that you know, this guy is, might do something wrong to us.” Moving out of the village to Amsterdam was important for Terek to feel “more comfortable” as he surrounds himself with fellow citizens of Amsterdam, which he considers to be more open-minded and cosmopolitan “because they’re mixed, they’re just me like.” Tarek seeks to strengthen his local network by participating in Facebook groups setup by and for refugees, as well as expatriates, including “Amsterdam for Arabs,” “Refugee Start force” and “Expats Republic in Amsterdam.” Worried about the distorted image of the Syrian community in the Netherlands, 22-year-old Wael shares that his “passion is to integrate the Syrian society in the Dutch society and tell all the world about my country and my people.” For his profile picture he usually chooses to “show the picture of my friends who died in the Syrian war or pictures about the war in my country.” He notices Dutch contacts on Facebook respond in a different way from his local and transnational Syrian contacts. He notices that Dutch contacts do not engage with “horrible pictures from Syria,” “they don’t like, or they don’t see it.” But when he shares something from his “normal life,” “they like it, see it and share it.” Here it also becomes obvious that the two-way process of integration, which demands an effort from two sides, does not come easily. Wael wonders why there is little interest among the Dutch in Syrian history and culture: “Why Dutch people don’t ask themselves that why Syrian people weren’t here in Holland before the war.” Wael felt social media rallying did not yield enough results, so he also joined an initiative called The Integration Caravan. [60] Aware of the particular preference for Dutch people to go on holidays with caravans, a group of Syrian refugees who travel the Netherlands in a trailer aim to further integrate themselves into the Dutch culture by striking up conversations with Dutch citizens in public spaces. It allows them to practice their Dutch and to broaden their networks. They also aim to inform Dutch about their culture with the hope to tear down any stereotypes or prejudices they may have. Ultimately, they wish to erase the right-wing nationalist rhetoric about Syrian refugees residing in the Netherlands as ‘geo-politically dangerous.’ It is this practice of interfacing-with-difference in offline and digital publics Wael finds important, to make Dutch people more aware about Syrian refugees and “why we are here.” More attention for these grassroots, community-led initiatives as forms of digital ‘cultural production’ is urgently needed, particularly as we know that the proliferation of digital humanitarianism projects, hackatons and ‘apps-for-refugees’ have been unsuccessful in magically solving the situation. [61] An estimated 1500 apps have been developed to help refugees as part of the so-called ‘European refugee crisis.’ [62] However well-intended, the majority of those go unused, most importantly because refugees themselves were often not involved in the development of these apps.



The interface between specifically located people, other organisms, and machines turns out to be an excellent field site for ethnographic inquiry into what counts as self-acting and as collective empowerment. [63]

This article explores how young refugees living in cities in the Netherlands interface-with-difference. Smartphones were considered as a repository of urban interfacing. In conceptualizing ‘being-in-the-world’ through interfaces as a fundamentally relational and digitally mediated practice, [64] we bring into dialogue insights from media, migration, urban and gender studies. Young refugees resettled in cities have to relate themselves to a complex situation of ‘super-diversity’ living in co-presence and in close proximity to cultural difference. [65] This points our attention to how connections are forged within and across different communities, which also resonates strongly with a dynamic understanding of space-making in the city. [66] Intersectionality is our entry point to situate these dynamics, which we operationalize as a lens to understand how axes including gender, age, race, class, sexuality, migration status and nationality among others co-construct each other and altogether have an impact upon identification and subordination. [67] As such, focusing on the digital cultural production of young refugees, this article seeks to demonstrate how “intersectional frameworks can surface counternarratives in fields engaging questions about information and technology and marginalized or oppressed groups.” [68]

The empirical analysis is based on a collaboration with 42 informants. Alongside in-depth interviews, smartphones were co-researched with the informants through a participatory action research setup. Smartphones are personal pocket archives with important material, emotional and symbolic functions; as a device which has been carried with them on their journeys, containing memories of love, joy and hardship. Discussing those functions with informants elicited insightful narratives demonstrating that young refugees are differentially positioned and differentially position themselves across on- and offline spaces. In interfacing across geographical borders the interviewees maintain transnational ties with their loved ones who remained or who moved elsewhere. Their experiences do not reflect the deterritorialization that has been argued to emerge from broader cultural transformations of the ‘network society.’ [69] Rather, their digital practices are distinctly located as dis-connectivity, separation, and memories of flight and loss re-territorialize their digital practices and remind them of gaps, hierarchies, and separation. Alongside transnational connectivity, they interface with urban difference by managing their intersectional identities in navigating generational, gender, religious and local expectations but their practices also reveal broader structural inequalities that travel from the offline into the online realm. Particularly, we found that young refugees’ smartphone pocket archives are experienced to offer deeply “performative engagements with the past.” The question does emerge whether and how personal digital archives may begin to challenge dominant ‘regimes of visibility’ that fail to portray marginalized groups like young refugees “as human beings with lives worth sharing.” [71] Further research is also needed on how other minority groups as well as majority groups interface-with-difference, and which points of convergence alongside certain axes emerge, and points of diverge resurface alongside other axes.


We are grateful to the informants for letting us into their lives. We appreciate the feedback and editorial support by the [urban interfaces] editorial team: Nanna Verhoeff, Sigrid Merx and Michiel de Lange. This study was financially supported by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Veni funding scheme: Young Connected Migrants: Comparing digital practices of young asylum seekers and expatriates in the Netherlands (2016-2019) and National Research Agenda Start Impulse funding for Media Literacy through Making Media: A Key to Participation for Young Newcomers? (2017-2019).

Authors’ Biographies 
Koen Leurs is assistant professor in Gender and Postcolonial Studies at the Graduate Gender Program, Department of Media and Culture, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He is the chair of the European Communication Research and Education (ECREA) Diaspora, Migration and the Media section and member of the ECREA Public Statement Committee. His research focusses on young people, gender, migration, cultural diversity, the city, digital practices and innovative research methods. Recently, he co-guest-edited special issues on “Forced migration and digital connectivity” for Social Media + Society (volume 4.1, 2018) and “Connected migrants” for Popular Communication (volume 16.1, 2018). His monograph Digital Passages. Migrant Youth 2.0 Diaspora, Gender and Youth Cultural Intersections was published by Amsterdam University Press (2015). Currently, he is co-editing the Sage Handbook of Media and Migration (2020) and writing a monograph titled Digital Migration.

Jeffrey Patterson graduated from the master program Youth, Education, and Society in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Recently he co-authored “We Live Here, and We Are Queer!: Young Gay Connected Migrants’ Transnational Ties and Integration in the Netherlands for Media and Communication (volume 7, issue 1, 2018). He is co-leading a study, which is part of a greater research project funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research VENI. He is enrolled in the International Postgraduate program at the Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies run by Utrecht University. Currently, he is seeking PhD opportunities in the field of Gender and Diversity.


Notes and References 

[1] Nicholas Gane and David Beer, New Media: The Key Concepts (Oxford: Berg, 2008), 61.

[2] Donna Haraway, “The Cyborg Manifesto,” in The Cultural Studies Reader, ed. S. During (1985; London: Routledge, 1999), 283.

[3] Richard Sennett, Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018); Jane Jacobs, Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City (London: Routledge, 1996).

[4] Doreen Massey, Space, Place and Gender (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).

[5] Doreen Massey, For Space (London: Sage, 2005), 11.

[6] Nira Yuval-Davis, “Situated Intersectionality and Social Inequality,” Raisons Politique 2, no. 58 (2015): 97.

[7] Anna Reading, “Memobilia: The Mobile Phone and the Emergence of Wearable Memories,” in Save as… Digital Memories, eds. J. Garde-Hansen, A. Hoskins and A. Reading (London: Palgrave, 2009), 87; Philippa Collin, Young Citizens and Political Participation in a Digital Society (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015).

[8] Max Schleser and Marsha Berry, “Introduction,” in Mobile Story Making in an Age of Smartphones, eds. Max Schleser and Marsha Berry (Cham: Palgrave MacMillan, 2018), 2.

[9] Jason Farman, Mobile Interface Theory (London: Routledge, 2012), 14.

[10] M. Chatzichristodoulou and R. Zerihan, “Introduction,” in Interfaces of Performance, eds. M. Chatzichristodoulou, J. Jefferies and R. Zerihan (London: Routledge, 2009), 1.

[11] Eugenia Siapera, Cultural Diversity and Global Media: The Mediation of Difference (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

[12] Ibid., 7.

[13] Ibid., 7-8.

[14] Laura Doan, “Queer History/Queer Memory: The Case of Alan Turning,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 23, no. 1 (2017): 113-136; Rob Cover, “Memorialising Queer Community,” Media International Australia 107, no. 1 (2019): 126-135.

[15] Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (New
Jersey, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011); Joseph N. Pelton and Indu B. Singh, Smart Cities of Today and Tomorrow (Cham: Springer, 2019), 225.

[16] José van Dijck, Martijn de Waal and Thomas Poell, The Platform Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018); Pieter Hendrik Smit, “Platforms of Memory: Social Media and Digital Memory Work” (PhD diss., Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 2018).

[17] Simon Joss, Matthew Cook and Youri Dayot, “Smart Cities: Towards a New Citizenship Regime?” Journal of Urban Technology 24, no. 4 (2017): 29-49; Martin Hand, “Persistent Traces, Potential Memories,” Convergence 22, no. 3 (2014): 269-286.

[18] Yuk Hui, “A Contribution to the Political Economy of Personal Digital Archives,” in Compromised Data, eds. Greg Elmer, Ganaele Langlois and Joanna Redden (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), 235.

[19] Ibid., 238; Ibid., 243-244.

[20] Isabelle Rigoni, “Intersectionality and Mediated Cultural Production in a Globalized Post-colonial World,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 35, no. 5 (2012): 836.

[21] Steven Vertovec, “Super-diversity and its Implications,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 30, no. 6 (2007): 1024–1054.

[22] Maurice Crul, “Super-diversity vs. Assimilation,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42, no. 1 (2016): 54-68.

[23] Ibid., 56.

[24] Vertovec, “Super-diversity and its Implications”; Crul, “Super-diversity vs. Assimilation.”

[25] Massey, For Space.

[26] Ibid., 11.

[27] Tali Hatuka and Eran Toch, “The Emergence of Portable Private-personal Territory,” Urban Studies 53, no. 10 (2016): 2192-2208.

[28] dana boyd, It’s complicated (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014).

[29] Ibid.

[30] Koen Leurs and Sandra Ponzanesi, “Connected Migrants: Encapsulation and Cosmopolitanization,” Popular Communication 16, no. 1 (2018): 4-20.

[31] Dana Diminescu, “The Connected Migrant: An Epistemological Manifesto,” Social Science Information 47, no. 4 (2008): 572.

[32] Leurs and Ponzanesi, “Connected Migrants.”

[33] Amanda Alencar, “Refugee Integration and Social Media,” Information, Communication & Society 21, no. 11 (2017): 1588-1603.

[34] Meenakshi Gigi Durham, “Constructing the ‘New Ethnicities,’” Critical Studies in Media Communication 21, no. 2 (2004): 140-161.

[35] Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins,” Stanford Law Review 43 (1989): 1241-1299.

[36] Maria Carbin and Sara Edenheim, “The Intersectional Turn in Feminist Fheory,” European Journal of Women’s Studies 20, no. 3 (2013): 233-248.

[37] Safiya Umoja Noble and Brendesha M. Tynes, “Introduction,” in The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class and Culture Online (New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2016), 6.

[38] Jennifer C. Nash, “Re-thinking Intersectionality,” Feminist Review 89 (2008): 12.

[39] Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins,” 1296.

[40] E.g. Kishonna L. Gray, “Intersecting Oppressions and Online Communities,” Information, Communication & Society 15, no. 3 (2012): 411-428; Rena Bivens, “The Gender Binary will not be Deprogrammed,” New Media & Society 20, no. 10 (2015): 1-19.

[41] Alexander Dhoest, “Intersections and (Dis)Connections: LGBTQ Uses of Digital Media in the Diaspora,” in The Handbook of Diasporas, Media and Culture, eds. Jessica Retis and Roza Tsagarousianou (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell, 2019), 387-400.

[42] Koen Leurs, Ena Omerović, Hemmo Bruinenberg and Sanne Sprenger, “Critical Media Literacy Through Making Media: A Key to Participation for Migrant Youth?” Communications: European Journal of Communication Research 43, no. 3 (2018): 427-450.

[43] Heaven Crawley and Dimitris Skleparis, “Refugees, Migrants, Neither, Both,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44 (2018): 48-64.

[44] Y. Boussaid and B. Boom, “Het ‘Broekzakarchief’ [The ‘Pocket Archive’],” Tijdschrift Volkskunde 3 (2016): 287–298.

[45] Loretta Baldassar, M. Nedelcu, L. Merla and R. Wilding, “ICT-based Co-presence in Transnational Families and Communities,” Global Networks 16 (2016): 133-144. See also Diminescu, “The Connected Migrant.”

[46] Manuel Castells, The Information Age (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

[47] Ibid., 500.

[48] Ibid., 406.

[49] Mirjam A. Twigt, “The Mediation of Hope,” Social Media + Society (January-March, 2018): 1–14,

[50] boyd, It’s complicated; Dhoest, “Intersections and (Dis)Connections.”

[51] Jena Burrell, Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012), 33.

[52] boyd, It’s complicated, 31.

[53] Jeffrey Patterson and Koen Leurs, “We’re Here and we’re Queer! Young Gay Connected Migrants’ Transnational Ties and Integration in the Netherlands,” Media & Communication 7, no. 1 (2019): 90-101.

[54] J. Garde-Hanson, A. Hoskins and A. Reading, eds. Save as … Digital Memories (London: Palgrave, 2009), 4-7.

[55] Broderick and Gibson as cited in Garde-Hanson, Hoskins and Reading, Save as … Digital Memories, 4.

[56] D. Alinejad, Next Generation Diaspora (Cham: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017).

[57] Ibid., 39.

[58] Myria Georgiou, “City of Refuge or Digital Order? Refugee Recognition and the Digital Governmentality of Migration in the City,” Television & New Media 20, no. 6 (2019): 611,

[59] Alastair Ager and Alison Strang, “Understanding Integration: A Conceptual Framework,” Journal of Refugee Studies 21 (2008): 166-191; Amanda Alencar, “Refugee Integration and Social Media,” Information, Communication & Society 21, no. 11 (2017): 1588-1603.

[60] De Integratie Caravan [The Integration Caravan] (@integratiecaravan), facebook profile,

[61] Rigoni, “Intersectionality and Mediated Cultural Production.”

[62] Amar Toor, “Europe’s Refugee Crisis Spurs Online Activism, but few Long-term Solutions,” The Verge, September 11, 2015,

[63] Donna Haraway, Modest−Witness@Second−Millennium (London: Routledge, 1997), 52-53.

[64] Farman, Mobile Interface Theory.

[65] Vertovec, “Super-diversity and its Implications.”

[66] Massey, For Space.

[67] Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins”; Yuval-Davis, “Situated Intersectionality and Social Inequality.”

[68] Noble and Tynes, “Introduction,” 4.

[69] Castells, The Information Age.

[70] Astrid Erll and Ann Rigney, “Introduction: Cultural Memory and its Dynamics,” In Mediation, Remediation and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory, eds. Astrid Erll and Ann Rigney (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012), 2.

[71] Lilie Chouliaraki and Tijana Stolic, “Rethinking Media Responsibility in the Refugee ‘Crisis,’” Media, Culture & Society 39, no. 8 (2017): 1162.



Ager, Alastair, and Alison Strang. “Understanding Integration: A Conceptual Framework.” Journal of Refugee Studies 21 (2008): 166-191.

Alencar, Amanda. “Refugee Integration and Social Media.” Information, Communication & Society 21, no. 11 (2017): 1588-1603.

Alinejad, D. Next Generation Diaspora. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017.

Baldassar, Loretta, M. Nedelcu, L. Merla, and R. Wilding. “ICT-based Co-presence in Transnational Families and Communities.” Global Networks 16 (2016): 133-144.

Bivens, Rena. “The Gender Binary will not be Deprogrammed.” New Media & Society 20, no. 10 (2015): 1-19.

Boussaid, Y. and B. Boom. “Het ‘Broekzakarchief’ [The ‘Pocket Archive’].” Tijdschrift Volkskunde 3 (2016): 287–298.

boyd, dana. It’s complicated. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.

Burrell, Jena. Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.

Carbin, Maria, and Sara Edenheim. “The Intersectional Turn in Feminist Fheory.” European Journal of Women’s Studies 20, no. 3 (2013): 233-248.

Castells, Manuel. The Information Age. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

Chatzichristodoulou, M., and R. Zerihan. “Introduction.” In Interfaces of Performance, edited by M. Chatzichristodoulou, J. Jefferies and R. Zerihan, 1-6. London: Routledge, 2009.

Chouliaraki, Lilie, and Tijana Stolic. “Rethinking Media Responsibility in the Refugee ‘Crisis.’” Media, Culture & Society 39, no. 8 (2017): 1162-1177.
Collin, Philippa. Young Citizens and Political Participation in a Digital Society. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015.

Cover, Rob. “Memorialising Queer Community.” Media International Australia 107, no. 1 (2019): 126-135.

Crawley, Heaven, and Dimitris Skleparis. “Refugees, Migrants, Neither, Both.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44 (2018): 48-64.

Crenshaw, Kimberlé. “Mapping the Margins.” Stanford Law Review 43 (1989): 1241-1299.

Crul, Maurice. “Super-diversity vs. Assimilation.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42, no. 1 (2016): 54-68.

Dhoest, Alexander. “Intersections and (Dis)Connections: LGBTQ Uses of Digital Media in the

Diaspora.” In The Handbook of Diasporas, Media and Culture, edited by Jessica Retis and Roza Tsagarousianou, 387-400. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell, 2019.

Diminescu, Dana. “The Connected Migrant: An Epistemological Manifesto.” Social Science Information 47, no. 4 (2008): 565-579.

Doan, Laura. “Queer History/Queer Memory: The Case of Alan Turning.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 23, no. 1 (2017): 113-136.

Durham, Meenakshi Gigi. “Constructing the ‘New Ethnicities.’” Critical Studies in Media Communication 21, no. 2 (2004): 140-161.

Erll, Astrid, and Ann Rigney. “Introduction: Cultural Memory and its Dynamics.” In Mediation, Remediation and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory, edited by Astrid Erll and Ann Rigney, 1-14. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012.

Farman, Jason. Mobile Interface Theory. London: Routledge, 2012.

Gane, Nicholas, and David Beer. New Media: The Key Concepts. Oxford: Berg, 2008.

Garde-Hanson, J., A. Hoskins, and A. Reading, eds. Save as … Digital Memories. London: Palgrave, 2009.

Georgiou, Myria. “City of Refuge or Digital Order? Refugee Recognition and the Digital Governmentality of Migration in the City.” Television & New Media 20, no. 6 (2019): 600-616.

Gray, Kishonna L. “Intersecting Oppressions and Online Communities.” Information, Communication & Society 15, no. 3 (2012): 411-428

Hand, Martin. “Persistent Traces, Potential Memories.” Convergence 22, no. 3 (2014): 269-286.

Haraway, Donna. “The Cyborg Manifesto.” In The Cultural Studies Reader, edited by S. During, 271-291. London: Routledge, 1999. First published 1985.

Haraway, Donna. Modest−Witness@Second−Millennium. London: Routledge, 1997.

Hatuka, Tali, and Eran Toch. “The Emergence of Portable Private-personal Territory.” Urban Studies 53, no. 10 (2016): 2192-2208.

Hui, Yuk. “A Contribution to the Political Economy of Personal Digital Archives.” In Compromised Data, edited by Greg Elmer, Ganaele Langlois and Joanna Redden, 226-246. London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

Jacobs, Jane. Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City. London: Routledge, 1996.

Joss, Simon, Matthew Cook, and Youri Dayot. “Smart Cities: Towards a New Citizenship Regime?” Journal of Urban Technology24, no. 4 (2017): 29-49.

Leurs, Koen, and Sandra Ponzanesi. “Connected Migrants: Encapsulation and Cosmopolitanization.” Popular Communication 16, no. 1 (2018): 4-20.

Leurs, Koen, Ena Omerović, Hemmo Bruinenberg, and Sanne Sprenger. “Critical Media Literacy Through Making Media: A Key to Participation for Migrant Youth?” Communications: European Journal of Communication Research 43, no. 3 (2018): 427-450.

Massey, Doreen. For Space. London: Sage, 2005.

Massey, Doreen. Space, Place and Gender. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
Nash, Jennifer C. “Re-thinking Intersectionality.” Feminist Review 89 (2008): 1-15.

Mayer-Schonberger, Viktor. Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. New
Jersey, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011.

Noble, Safiya Umoja, and Brendesha M. Tynes. “Introduction.” In The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class and Culture Online, 1-20. New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2016.

Patterson, Jeffrey, and Koen Leurs. “We’re Here and we’re Queer! Young Gay Connected Migrants’ Transnational Ties and Integration in the Netherlands.” Media & Communication 7, no. 1 (2019): 90-101.

Pelton, Joseph N., and Indu B. Singh. Smart Cities of Today and Tomorrow. Cham: Springer, 2019.

Reading, Anna. “Memobilia: The Mobile Phone and the Emergence of Wearable Memories.” In Save as… Digital Memories, edited by J. Garde-Hansen, A. Hoskins and A. Reading, 81-95. London: Palgrave, 2009.

Rigoni, Isabelle. “Intersectionality and Mediated Cultural Production in a Globalized Post-Colonial World.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 35, no. 5 (2012): 834-849.

Schleser, Max, and Marsha Berry. “Introduction.” In Mobile Story Making in an Age of Smartphones, edited by Max Schleser and Marsha Berry, 1-10. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan, 2018.

Sennett, Richard. Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018.

Siapera, Eugenia. Cultural Diversity and Global Media: The Mediation of Difference. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

Smit, Pieter Hendrik. “Platforms of Memory: Social Media and Digital Memory Work.” PhD diss., Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 2018.

Toor, Amar. “Europe’s Refugee Crisis Spurs Online Activism, but few Long-term Solutions.” The Verge, September 11, 2015.

Twigt, Mirjam A. “The Mediation of Hope.” Social Media + Society (January-March, 2018): 1–14.

Van Dijck, José, Martijn de Waal, and Thomas Poell. The Platform Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Vertovec, Steven. “Super-diversity and its Implications.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 30, no. 6 (2007): 1024–1054.

Yuval-Davis, Nira. “Situated Intersectionality and Social Inequality.” Raisons Politique 2, no. 58 (2015): 91-100.