I began research on migration as an aspect of media study five years ago, hoping to discover the implications of the deeper intersections between the two for a book project. I wanted to understand the tensions between these two fields, but also reveal underlying patterns that give shape to their interactions. Casting the net wide, I read across disciplines and used an expansive notion of media to include diverse forms of expression and commentary. I developed courses on the topic, attended migration-related conferences, and assembled small research teams to access different kinds of ‘data’. From these there emerged a sense of a core vocabulary –verbal, visual, and narrative—that provides the cultural and imaginative ‘tools’ to address migration.
At some point it was evident, however, that not all the material I was accumulating could find their way into a book, no matter how exhaustive. Given the emphasis on media as source material, it seemed appropriate to find a repository that could display them, and that would allow for constant updating on a topic that had become increasingly important worldwide. The internet with its capacious resources and global reach was the obvious answer for the archival, interactive, and outreach aspects of this project. This website is the result. It had its tentative beginnings two years ago and has been growing since. It remains, however, a work in progress, given that migration is, at its heart, unfinished business.
Finally, a word about ‘mapping.’ Given the preponderance of maps in charting migration movements and data of all sorts, the association of the two words, migration and mapping, would seem self-evident. This site, however, uses the term ‘mapping’ more broadly to help build a lexicon. It maps all kinds of information while treating ‘mapping’ itself as a medium. And as with all the other media explored, these are amenable to critical analysis and open to elaboration.