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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by transcript Verlag November 29, 2019

Refusing Shame and Inertia

A Mobile Heterotopia in a Migrant Camp

Natalie Dixon
From the journal Digital Culture & Society


In this paper, mobile communication is examined in the context of forced migration from an affective perspective using the case study of an informal migrant camp that was established in 2015 at Budapest’s Keleti train station. Drawing on concepts of migration, affect and media, I examine various news reports and social media commentary about the camp as well as the makeshift Wi-Fi network that was established there in relation to Hungarian populist politics. I posit the station as a site of contestation between migrants, the Hungarian government and non-governmental actors that speaks to the politicisation of communication technology. The conclusion points to how mobile communication provides a way for forced migrants to create a heterotopic space in extreme conditions as the migrant community is affectively moored by media practices that enable feelings of familiarity and security. These practices not only constitute a kind of refuge for migrants but also offer a form of refusal, however small, towards the shaming and inertia they experience.

Published Online: 2019-11-29
Published in Print: 2019-12-01

© 2019 by transcript Verlag