Dr. Gonzales Benson presents our paper “‘Wledna’/ ‘Our boys’: Design, digital space & social justice for missing migrants of the Mediterranean” at the IASFM18 Conference

Dr. Gonzales Benson presents our paper “‘Wledna’/ ‘Our boys’: Design, digital space & social justice for missing migrants of the Mediterranean” at the IASFM18 Conference

Event: The International Association for the Study of Forced Migration – IASFM18 Conference

When: July 26-30 2021

Where: University of Ghana, Accra

With an on-campus exhibit and online platform and in partnership with a Tunisia-based migrant advocacy organization, this study examines the representation and voice of missing migrants of the Mediterranean. Seeking safe and dignified lives, migrants crossed from Tunisia and other MENA countries into Italy and Europe via the Mediterranean Sea route in recent years. Many do not live to reach their destination. The Italian government and the international community manage rehousing, or burial, of migrants without due process; deaths are tallied as mere statistics, and bodies are not identified nor given due respect. Meanwhile, behind each missing person is family, friends, community.

This research explores how families navigate that space that toggles between loss and hope, and what it means to pursue action and advocacy, as families search for the loved ones and search for answers. First, we discuss an art exhibit, featuring information and data visualization works created by university students. Second, we discuss an online platform, that draws from interviews, archival research, and exhibit materials. The site aspires to transform data into a tool to motivate policy change and generate awareness and action; to create an accessible platform for advocacy and validation. The two projects aim to counter-narratives that depict missing migrants as statistics, and to humanize the migrant, as beloved to family, friends, and community. Our interdisciplinary, transnational team, comprised of faculty, students, and activists, aims to bring social justice and advocacy together with design and technology into a powerful and meaningful synthesis in public scholarship.