Multimodal interventions: Critical and creative engagements with migrations, border and violence

Seminars and Workshops
Tue . 28 Nov . 16h00
Sala Maria de Sousa & Zoom
Multimodal interventions: Critical and creative engagements with migrations, border and violence
STS-MIGTEC, DeMig PhD Programme Migration Studies, and ICS Migrations Hub

Multimodal interventions:

Critical and creative engagements with migrations, border and violence

(keynotes and roundtable)

November 28, 16.00 - 18.00 (WET)


An initiative of STS-MIGTEC together with Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa (ICS-ULisboa), DeMig PhD Programme Migration Studies, and ICS Migrations Hub.

Organised by: Pedro F. Neto and Nina Amelung (ICS-ULisboa) and Ildikó Z. Plájás (University of Amsterdam)

Inspired by emergent discussions in Science and Technology Studies (STS) on experimental collaborations (Estalella and Criado 2018; Lippert and Mewes 2021), and making and doing (Downey and Zuiderent-Jerak 2021), this roundtable will focus on alternative co-creative research and dissemination strategies that have the potential to reach beyond the walls of academia and intervene in broader public discussions. Our quest for multi-modal collaborations and interventions has the primary scope to widen the reach of Migration and Border Studies scholarship and to facilitate knowledge production with societal partners such as media makers, artists and engagement with wider publics.


Darcy Alexandra: Multi-modal Engagement as Accompaniment

Abstract: In this talk, I will take examples from my own practice to discuss multi-modality in the context of migration, borders and violence. From this framework, I will consider co-creative accompaniment as a productive way to conceptualize a multi-modal practice. In this way, I will think through critical challenges and affordances of multi-modal engagement, address the co-creative alliances that can be formed, and the pedagogical strengths of these approaches for emergent scholars.

Bio: Darcy Alexandra is a Swiss National Science Foundation researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern. An award-winning educator and poet, Dr. Alexandra conducts multi-modal research in the Americas and Europe. “Entre Rios: Surveillance and Futurity in the Sky Islands" is her current landscape ethnography. It examines contesting theories of futurity and ecological practices of care in the US-Mexico borderlands. Visualizing Migrant Voices: Co-Creative Documentary and the Politics of Listening (2015), her media ethnography with asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland, builds critical pathways for engaged, public anthropology. The Woman You Look For, Alexandra’s current animated film, is an intimate portrait of state and gender-based violence. Set to premiere in 2025, the Swiss Federal Office for Culture (BAK), the Zürich Film Foundation, and Swiss National Television (SRF), among others, have awarded the project development and production funding. Alexandra’s multi-modal methods are informed by studies in video documentary (Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University), digital storytelling (StoryCenter, Berkeley) and poetry (Community of Writers, Tin House). For more information, please visit Dr. Alexandra's website or her page.

Andrew Gilbert: Multimodal Appreciations 

Abstract: What are the possibilities of more-than-textual formats, like comics, for understanding migration, borders, and violence? How can a research-based comic or illustrated narrative constitute an intervention into a sociopolitical context? And if multimodal forms of research and communication contain such promise, how can we create a legitimate place for them within academia? 

Bio: Andrew Gilbert is professor and co-director of the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology at the Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.  Before coming to Germany he taught anthropology at the University of Chicago, McMaster University and the University of Toronto.  His research explores the politics of social transformation, mostly in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  He is currently part of multiple international research projects that explore the possibilities of networked collaborative ethnography as well as how to promote the value of multimodal, more-than-textual ethnography.  He is also currently working on an experimental graphic ethnography entitled Reclaiming Dita. 

Jonathan Luke Austin: Multi-Modality, Political Subversion, and the Future of Social Science

Abstract: ‘In reactionary times, of violence and regression, how can social science cultivate a subversive political method to advocate for distinct - emancipatory - futures? Multimodality will be central to this task in its capacity to entangle knowledge, publics, and possibilities with different affective atmospheres, distinct emotional valences, and alternative cognitive modes. In this talk, I discuss three examples where this vision of a subversive multimodal engagement with the world has been deployed to speculate about different futures.

Bio: Jonathan Luke Austin is Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Copenhagen and Director of the Centre for Advanced Security Theory. His work explores the intersections between design, violence, and politics, with a particular focus on humanitarian action. He currently co-leads a transdisciplinary research agenda on the Future of Humanitarian Design.

Moderation: Nina Amelung (ICS-Ulisboa)