Disrupted becomings: The role of smartphones in Syrian refugees’ physical and existential journeys

2019-06-13T08:47:32Z (GMT) by Hannah A. Gough Katherine Gough
This paper explores the role of smartphones in facilitating the journeys of predominantly young, male Syrians following the onset of the civil war. Drawing on in-depth interviews conducted with Syrian refugees who have reached Denmark but are at different stages of the asylum process, it traces the multiple disruptions they have experienced and delves into the ways in which they navigate in their search for a better life. Their smartphones are shown to be vital tools in a myriad of ways at all stages of their physical and existential journeys starting from their lives in Syria and then Turkey, the boat crossing to Greece, overland through Europe, seeking asylum and settling into Denmark. The concept of ‘chronic disruption’ is developed to capture the ways in which refugees are constantly facing new hurdles in their lives, which smartphones play a key role both physically and existentially in their attempts to overcome. This paper makes an original contribution to migration studies by bringing together an analysis of the role smartphones play as part of migration infrastructure, both in facilitating access to the migration industry and shaping migrants’ journeys, aspects which are rarely brought together in one study.