Narratives of migration and development as discourses in transnational digital migrant media: the case of Kenyan migration to Europe

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BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg


This dissertation examines how migration and development narratives are (re)produced in transnational digital migrant media using an example of Kenyan migration to Europe, as its main sociological question. It also raises questions about existing gaps in the literature on the role of the media specifically, transnational digital migrant media in constructing influential discourses. It achieves this quest by submitting to an objective to examine the contribution of migrant media discourses to development in migration-sending countries (De Haas, 2007). Using postcolonial-discourse theoretic approach, the thesis analyses the criteria for selection of texts on migration and development, and how the texts inform the discourse. It establishes that postcolonialism is prevalent in European social research, but limited to justifying historical occurrences and re-writing wrongs done to Africans and others formerly colonized. The theoretical concepts of development in this thesis follow Arturo Escobar’s (1995) deconstruction of conventional development theory. It includes an appreciation of multi-faceted theoretic dynamics, especially historical effects on development and creation of hegemonic disparities causing migration of Kenyans to Europe. The dissertation explores the relation of liberal development narratives to Postcolonial perspectives of Edward Said (1977), Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1986) and Homi Bhabha (1983), whose writings expose stereotypes like those found in development constructs. This dissertation highlights similar aspects of representations of migration and development in the media. It does not only expose migrant’s contribution to development but accentuates the discourse forming function of migrant media in the production of heterogeneous narratives on migration and development. This reflection is an attempt to look at possibilities of alternative development trajectories in migrant media and Postcolonial texts, that resist neo-colonial economic narratives forced on people of African descent. The findings for this thesis show that migrant media provides hegemonic ideas on development, as well as alternative counterhegemonic views. Hence, development in modern Africa since self-determination in the 1950s and 1960s continues to furnish the media’s socio-economic and political discourse. Even though poverty and political instability of Africa characterize narratives in the mainstream media, migrant media utilizes new media platforms for “subalterns” to be heard. Migrants’ inputs on development (re)produced in migrant media, inform a discourse that champions initiatives aimed at improving livelihoods in migration-sending countries. To answer the main sociological question on (re)production of narratives this dissertation learns from Norman Fairclough’s (1995, 2012) guidelines to discourse analysis, as informed from Michel Foucault’s (1980) theoretic approach. As a qualitative research strategy, the dissertation explores Texts from transnational digital migrant media for Kenyans in Europe (Germany and UK) and expert interviews with Kenyan media producers in Germany and in Britain. On this basis, the thesis argues that not only are media expert’s contributors to development but are also important creators of a discourse that qualifies migration as a reality in Kenya’s development.


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Media Narratives, Migration and Development, Postcolonialism, Migrations Crisis, Brexit, Kenyans in Europe


Ouma Radoli, L. (2019). Narratives of migration and development as discourses in transnational digital migrant media: the case of Kenyan migration to Europe (Doctoral dissertation, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg).