1st Edition

The Digital Empowerment-Control Nexus Precarious Migrants, Migration Regimes and Digital Technologies

Edited By Mihaela Nedelcu, Ibrahim Soysüren Copyright 2025
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book analyses the diverse and complex interactions between the emancipatory practices of precarious (i.e. forced, vulnerable, undocumented or deported) migrants enabled by information and communication technologies, and the constraints imposed by technological tools used for surveillance and migration control. It explores the digital empowerment-control nexus by articulating the use of digital technologies - whether by migrants themselves, civil society actors or institutions - with their mediating role in the processes of empowerment, surveillance and migration control.

    Based on original empirical studies, the chapters bring contrasting and complementary insights into the use of digital technologies as agentic and/or surveillance tools in different national and supranational contexts (Turkey, Mexico, the United States, Switzerland, France, Romania, Greece and the European Union) and from different disciplinary perspectives (anthropology, sociology, geography, media studies, law and deportation studies). Using different theoretical lenses, they demonstrate the varying degrees of (dis)entanglement between individual and institutional practices, at micro and macro levels.

    Helping readers to understand the ambivalent role of digital technologies in (forced) migration processes, The Digital Empowerment-Control Nexus can be used as a resource by students, researchers, practitioners and policymakers interested in digitally mediated migration practices and migration regimes.  It was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

    Introduction – Precarious migrants, migration regimes and digital technologies: the empowerment-control nexus

    Mihaela Nedelcu and Ibrahim Soysüren


    1. Empowering experiences of digitally mediated flows of information for connected migrants on the move

    İlke Şanlıer Yüksel


    2. Navigating the Aegean Sea: smartphones, transnational activism and viapolitical in(ter)ventions in contested maritime borderzones

    Simon Noori


    3. Bare life in an immigration jail: technologies of surveillance in U.S. pre-deportation detention

    Agnieszka Radziwinowiczówna


    4. Deportation, smart borders and mobile citizens: using digital methods and traditional police activities to deport EU citizens

    Ioana Vrăbiescu


    5. Bordering processes through the use of technology: the Turkish case

    Burcu Toğral Koca


    6. European instruments for the deportation of foreigners and their uses by France and Switzerland: the application of the Dublin III Regulation and Eurodac

    Ibrahim Soysüren and Mihaela Nedelcu


    7. The Schengen-wide entry ban: how are non-citizens’ personal data protected?

    Izabella Majcher



    Mihaela Nedelcu is Titular Professor of Sociology at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Since her pioneering book Le migrant online (2009), she has developed her expertise in digital migration studies, focusing on transnational families, e-diasporas and e-borders.

    Ibrahim Soysüren is a senior researcher at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He has conducted comparative research on the deportation of foreigners and the use of biometric databases and has published extensively on these topics as well as on migration processes.

    This collection, edited by Mihaela Nedelcu and Ibrahim Soysüren, promotes a critical and nuanced understanding of the contradictory mediating roles digital technologies play in the lives of migrants. The focus is on mobile subjects who are made precarious as a result of migration regimes, such as forced, vulnerable, undocumented and deported migrants. The articles demonstrate how the “digital empowerment-control nexus” is variously experienced on the ground, contributing to the interdisciplinary research area of digital migration studies by offering conceptual, methodological and empirical means to overcome binary either-or approaches.  

    -            Dr Koen Leurs, Associate Professor in Gender, Media and Migration Studies at the Graduate Gender Program, Department of Media and Culture, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.