Mobility and Displacement: refugees' mobile media practices in immigration detention

Queensland University of Technology
Publication Type:
Journal Article
M/C Journal, 2007, 10 (1), pp. 1 - 5
Issue Date:
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The paper discusses mobility in the context of displacement. How is the mobile phone appropriated by refugees in immigration detention? What does the mobile phone, and indeed, mobility, signify in an Australian policy landscape of mandatory detention of asylum seekers and formerly prohibited access to mobile phones for detainees inside immigration detention centres? What does this intimate about the perceived dangers of ânewâ and mobile media? The authorâs preliminary research with refugees in Australian immigration detention centres compares policy and practice. Firstly, it interrogates the unwritten policies regulating refugeesâ access to media technologies when incarcerated in immigration detention. As there is no written policy on technology access and practices vary across immigration detention centres, the information in this paper has been given by detainees and has not been verified by the management of detention centres. The paper suggests that the utopian promises of mobile media echo those made about cyberspace in the 1990s. Furthermore, the residual effects of such rhetoric have infiltrated government policy in terms of perceiving mobile media as dangerous when adopted by marginalised groups such as refugees. Secondly, the research examines how and why the mobile phone has been adopted by immigration detainees despite their former prohibition. It explores the ways in which refugees practice an imagined mobility through media whilst in detention, and finds that this is critical to sustaining connection with their imagined communities.
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