Seminar in Tokyo on digital media, migration, and the rise of nationalism in Asia and Europe

Last week I was in Tokyo for a bi-lateral seminar sponsored by the Dutch National Scientific Organization (NWO) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). It was on Media, Migration, and the Rise of Nationalism: Comparing European and Asian Experiences and Perspectives (description in link).

My paper was on the Politics of (Intimate) Transnational Connections, and was in the panel on Transnational Migrant Networks and Digital Diasporas. I spoke about how Instagram mediates the relationships that second-generation Turkish-Dutch migrants who have moved to Turkey from the Netherlands develop to the city of Istanbul. I discussed how practices of social media photo sharing allow people to escape certain anxieties about the contemporary political and economic circumstances in Turkey while producing new tensions of their own.

The seminar provided a unique, interdisciplinary space created within the creative setting of Arts Chiyoda. It was oriented towards exchange focused especially on digital media and the contemporary contentions around migration in European and Japanese contexts, bringing to the fore interesting parallels and divergences in the public and scholarly debates around these issues.

All the papers brought a range of insights to the discussion. One of the contributions I found particularly fascinating was Prof. Huub Dijstelbloem’s (UvA) paper: “The Border Goes Where the Movement Is: The Technopolitcs of Europe’s Moving Borders.” His book featuring this work from a political philosophy perspective is coming out soon.

An art piece made in response to one of the seminar panels, accompanied by a text describing a parable that inspired the painting. A white goat sent a black goat a letter and as soon as it arrived the black goat ate the letter and then wondered what was in it, so he wrote a letter back to the white goat to ask. But when the letter arrived, the white goat ate it before reading the content. And so the cycle continued. The duo art pieces made by a local artist are named “The letter never read.” It was a commentary on the struggles of long-distance media communications.