Rethinking transit zones: migrant trajectories and transnational networks in Techno-Borderscapes
Marie Godin, Giorgia Donà
This article examines the intersections between migrants’ trajectories and digital technologies by analysing the role of mobile digital devices in the everyday lives of migrants in transit. We introduce the novel concept of techno-borderscapes to rethink transit zones as sites of embodied and virtual encounters among various state and non-state actors and to unravel the intersections between digital securitisation, humanitarianism and activism. Based on narrative, participatory and ethnographic research with migrants in transit at the France–UK border and ongoing transnational collaborations with a sub-group of former camp residents, our research shows that digital devices shape migrants’ experiences of transit, their migratory trajectories and their transnational encounters. Confronted with increased border securitisation, migrants use mobile technologies to bypass borders, create new forms of migrant-to-migrant protection and assistance, and articulate their political voice. Moving away from the general representation of transit spaces as singular points in a unidirectional migratory trajectory, our findings show that these spaces are sites of confluence of multi-directional mobilities. Transit zones are not just ‘in-between’ spaces but rather transformative and transforming spaces in which mobile digital technologies play a significant role.