Volume 11, No. 2, Art. 26 – May 2010

Visualising Migration and Social Division: Insights From Social Sciences and the Visual Arts

Susan Ball & Chris Gilligan

Abstract: In recent years a growing number of social scientists have taken an interest in "the visual". These scholars have utilised and developed a wide range of different visual methodologies. The number of social scientists employing visual methodologies has grown to a point where there are now critical masses of scholars working on particular topics. Alongside this a number of practitioners working in visual arts have taken an interest in the issue of migration. This FQS special issue is devoted to the use of visual methodologies to explore the particular topic of migration and social division. In this introductory article the editors provide a brief introduction to research on "the visual" and research on migration and social division. We then go on to explore what the use of visual methodologies might contribute to research on migration and social division.

Key words: visual methodologies; visual studies; visual research methods; migration; social division

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Visual Studies

2.1 Key terms in the study of "the visual"

2.2 Visual studies

3. Migration and Migration Studies

3.1 Contemporary migration

3.2 Migration studies

4. The Contributions to this Issue

5. Visualising Migration and Social Division

5.1 What can social scientists gain through adopting visual methodologies?

5.2 Visual methodologies and five key topics in the study of migration and social division

5.2.1 Residential segregation

5.2.2 Inequality and discrimination based on difference

5.2.3 Labour market segmentation

5.2.4 Processes of racialisation/ethnic group formation

5.2.5 Citizenship and belonging

5.3 Inadequacies of visual studies, or of the study of migration and social division?

5.3.1 Time as a social divide (or the past as a foreign country)

5.3.2 Movement

6. Conclusion








1. Introduction

This FQS special issue is the product of a number of discussions, workshops and a conference which the editors have been involved in organising over the last few years. The workshops have brought together academics working in the visual arts and social scientists who are using visual mediums to explore the themes of migration and social divisions. We had three main aims in bringing social scientists and people working in the visual arts together. These were to:

In our encounter with visual artists we have been struck by the fact that some trends in migration studies are also to be found in the visual arts. The policy orientated work of social scientists, for example, is paralleled in the work of some visual artists. We are also aware that visual artists are familiar with some of the social science literature on migration, and draw on this work for purposes of background research. These symmetries between visual arts practice and social science research suggest some questions about the relationship between the related work in the two disciplines. Is the work of visual artists, and social scientists who employ visual methodologies, merely illustrative? (Does this work provide visual images which replicate in pictures the work which has been undertaken by, and is driven by, social scientists?) Is the work of visual artists, and social scientists who employ visual methodologies, illuminating? (Does this work shine a light into areas which have remained dark to social scientists, does it provide new insights which have not been, and perhaps could not have been, generated through non-visual social science research?) Is the work of visual artists, and social scientists who employ visual methodologies, interdisciplinary? (Does it provide a synthesis of insights from text, or numbers-based, social science research and insights from the visual arts, or social science research which employs visual methodologies?) Or is the relationship between the social sciences and the visual arts a different one? Are visual artists and social scientists irreconcilable, do they each represent one of two cultures—the former concerned with aesthetics, the latter with objective scientific laws—which don't, can't or won't speak to each other (SNOW, 1964). And where do we locate social scientists who employ visual methodologies? Are they idiosyncratic individuals who seem equally out of place in the arts and social sciences? In this introductory article we tentatively explore some of these possibilities. [2]

From our experience of organising the discussions and workshops we have realised that there are a lot of people who are using visual methodologies—research methods for gathering visual data and/or conceptual tools for the interpretation of visual materials—to explore the topic of migration and social division.1) These events provide an indication of the level of interest in visual methodologies amongst social scientists. The number of social scientists employing visual methodologies has grown considerably in recent years. There is now a sufficient critical mass of social scientists working with "the visual" to have enabled us to organise a conference on the specific topic of visualising migration and social division (for details see the Appendix). We are also aware, however, that many social scientists know very little about visual methodologies. We hope that this collection will be of interest to scholars who work with visual methodologies, but who are not familiar with the topic of migration and social division. We also hope that it will be of interest to scholars who work on the topic of migration and social division, but who are not familiar with visual methodologies. [3]

The next part of this introductory article (Section 2) provides a brief introduction to the embryonic field of visual studies. We outline some of the key terms in visual studies and provide a brief outline of the main strands of work in the social sciences that can make a claim to being included within the field of visual studies. In Section 3 we provide a brief introduction to some of the trends in contemporary migration, and some of the features of migration studies. In Section 4 we provide a brief outline of the contents of the articles in this collection. In Section 5 we consider migration and "the visual" together. We indicate some of the ways in which the contributions to this collection provide some insights for the study of migration and social division. [4]

2. Visual Studies

The term visual studies can be applied to a range of different approaches in the humanities and social sciences in which a visual dimension is integral. These different approaches, however, have very different origins and orientations. While they all share an interest in "the visual" they have different methodological approaches. This can be confusing for social scientists who are beginning to take an interest in a visual dimension to social research. In this section we aim to provide some orientation for readers who are new to the "the visual" in the social sciences. In the first section we outline some of the key terms—visual technologies, visual communication, audience, scopic regimes, visuality, visual medium, visual research methods, visual analysis, visual methodologies—that will help us to map out an understanding of the visual and visual studies. In the second section we provide an introduction to visual studies through providing a brief introduction to some of the main strands in the humanities and social sciences which can make a claim to being "visual studies". [5]

2.1 Key terms in the study of "the visual"

MIRZOEFF defines a visual technology as "any form of apparatus designed either to be looked at or to enhance natural vision" (1998a, p.3). If we consider human history from the perspective of the length of time that humans have inhabited the earth then text-based human communication is a relative late-comer. Some of the earliest evidence of human existence takes the form of visual technologies. Long before the development of written texts early humans painted and drew visual representations on the walls of caves, and modelled three dimensional representations in clay (GOMBRICH, 1950). Indeed the earliest form of text, cuniform writing, is thought to have derived from formalised pictograms (ADKINS, 2003). Visual technologies have been used for more than communication. Lenses, for example, have been developed to correct defects in human vision and they have been developed to help us explore and understand the heavens. The development of optical telescopes in the seventeenth century, for example, permitted GALILEO, BRACHE and KEPLER to observe the movement of celestial bodies in greater detail. The observations that these pioneers of modern astronomy made using optical telescopes helped to generate the data which provided the proof for COPERNICUS's heliocentric theory (PANNEKOEK, 1961). Since the 1930s technological developments have extended our ability to observe the universe beyond the visual range of our human eyesight through radio-telescopes, infrared telescopes and, with the development of satellite technology, X-ray, gamma-ray and ultraviolet telescopes.2) The development of technologies which observe phenomena which exist on wavelengths beyond visible light has gone hand-in-hand with the development of visualisation technologies which "translate" this data to enable us to "see" phenomena which are located beyond the visual range detectable by our human hardware. [6]

We can make a distinction between visual communication and visual exploration. Visual communication involves the transmission of a message (or messages) to an audience, through a particular visual medium. Since earliest times humans have communicated through a wide range of visual media, including: pottery, sculpture, buildings, drawings, paintings, maps, posters, cartoons, comic books, body adornment, costume and fabrics. Professions with a particular interest in visual communication have emerged and developed. These range from "high Art" painters, sculptors, film makers, gallery directors and curators, to commercially orientated graphic designers, fashion-designers, sign-makers, landscape gardeners, interior designers and cake-makers. These professions have, to varying degrees, developed and codified knowledge on visual techniques and passed these onto succeeding generations of visual professionals, and the lay public (GOMBRICH, 1950). Technological developments have continued to extend the range of visual mediums; from the development of photography in the nineteenth century to cinema, television and the Internet in the twentieth (see e.g.: JEFFREY, 1981; SMITH, 2006). [7]

Visual communication involves a relationship between a producer and a consumer. The producer creates something that has a visual dimension and the consumer is the audience which views this product. This relationship, however, is not usually a direct one, but is usually mediated through the visual product. The producer cannot be certain that the meaning, or feeling, he/she intended to communicate will be the message that is received by the audience. This is because audiences are not empty vessels who passively receive visual messages. Audiences bring their own cultural resources to the interpretation of visual materials. Interpretation is also influenced by social context (ROSE, 2007, pp.196-236). [8]

An important element of the relationship between an image and its audience is the scopic regime through which an image is viewed. The French film theorist Christian METZ (1982 [1977]) introduced the term "scopic regime" when drawing a distinction between ways of seeing in cinema and theatre. METZ made clear that the difference for members of a cinema audience is that representation is spatially and temporally independent of the "real" object being represented. The term "scopic regime" has since been broadened in order to cover visual experiences mediated by other types of technologies, including photography, television and digital technologies. Within this work, one aspect which has received particular attention is that of the "male gaze", This has been explored by feminist theorists in order to take into account gender differences in ways of seeing (WALTERS, 1995). At a broader level, the intellectual historian Martin JAY (1988) has argued that ways of seeing and being on view are constructed rather than natural. Taking as an example the visual culture of the modern era, JAY has shown not only how visuality may change over time to reflect cultural changes, but also that different ways of seeing may co-exist at any one moment in time. [9]

Visual materials and visual communication have been an area of academic interest in art history, philosophy (aesthetics, vision, colour) and in the applied arts. In the field of psychology there has been an interest in the psychology of seeing (GREGORY, 1977). Until recently most social science research on "the visual" has been directed towards analysing visual communication, and was the preserve of media studies and communication studies. The use of visual technologies—such as still photography and audio-visual recordings—to generate "researcher created visual data" was for a long time confined to the minor, but venerable, sub-fields of visual anthropology and visual sociology (PROSSER & LOXLEY, 2008). These two bodies of knowledge—communication research and visual anthropology/sociology—are, rather confusingly, sometimes both referred to as visual research. For this reason we prefer to use the term visual research methods to refer to the gathering of research data using visual technologies—such as cameras or drawing materials—and we use the term visual analysis to refer to research, or the stage of the research process, which involves the dissection and interpretation of visual data (whether this data has been deliberately generated for research purposes or not). We use the term visual methodologies as an umbrella term to refer to visual research methods and visual analysis. The term visual methodologies refers to the theories and concepts, methods and technologies utilised in researching "the visual". [10]

2.2 Visual studies

Technological developments have helped to lower production costs and made visual technologies more widely available to the public. In the twenty-first century visual technologies have become part of everyday life. As the introduction to an earlier special issue of FQS noted:

"The rapid development of information technology is paralleled by a tremendous increase in the use of visual forms of communication. The digital storage and transmission of images, the availability of video technology and its digital accessibility, the dissemination of visual surveillance technologies or the transformation from textual to visual forms of communication—such as the use of Powerpoint in lectures—turns visualisations in various forms into an integrated part of contemporary culture and everyday life" (KNOBLAUCH, BAER, LAURIER, PETSCHKE & SCHNETTLER, 2008, §1). [11]

These rapid technological developments have made contemporary society more visual in the sense that they have generated a greater array of visual technologies with which to create and store visual records. Our society is also more visual in the sense that the use of these technologies has generated a proliferation of visual materials. (Think, for example, of the number of photographs which can be stored on digital cameras, whether these are dedicated cameras or other digital devices, such as mobile phones, which have a camera function.) These developments underpin the growing interest in "the visual". This growing interest has given rise to what some academics are referring to as "visual studies". [12]

In our encounter with "visual studies" we have sometimes felt like we have stumbled upon an illicit drinking den. There is a party in full swing, with lots of boisterous activity going on. The revellers are all enthusiasts with lots to say. Beyond the confines of this rarefied environment, however, it is as if "visual studies" does not exist. As John GRADY puts it:

"the disciplines within which we work remain either indifferent, wary or, in some cases, quite hostile to our demand for entry and acceptance. They all have reservations about our data and whether it can produce valid information. They are not sure how representative our materials can be of any given universe. Finally, they distrust our interest in contemporary social developments and cultural expressions, suspecting that our intent is to celebrate what we study, rather than carry out a dispassionate examination of the relationships and world they purport to represent" (2008, §1-2). [13]

James ELKINS, in a proselytising text, says that "Visual studies is poised to become one of the most interesting and conceptually challenging subjects that has emerged in academic life in the last several decades" (2003, p.vii). His enthusiasm for visual studies is evident throughout the text, but the academic field is very much presented as a work in progress, rather than an established discipline. [14]

This "work in progress" feel is reflected in the dispersed and eclectic nature of visual studies. To continue our analogy: visual studies is a drinking den with many rooms (different approaches); the revellers have arrived at different times (some come from a long tradition of working with visual methodologies, others are relative newcomers); many of the party-goers have their own favourite tipple (methodological tools) which they guard jealously, and others will drink anything which is to hand (driven either by pragmatism or by an eclectic disposition); some are regulars, some are just along out of curiosity and others are dilettantes; and many of the revellers are merrily oblivious to the party-goers in other rooms. [15]

The growing interest in visual studies can be seen in the burgeoning literature which introduce and showcase the range of different work being conducted using visual methodologies in the social sciences (see e.g.: ELKINS, 2003; EVANS & HALL, 1999; MIRZOEFF, 1998b; PROSSER, 1998; ROSE, 2007; VAN LEEUWEN & JEWITT, 2001). The growing interest can also be seen in the number and range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in visual studies (for a discussion of courses developed in the USA see: DIKOVITSKAYA, 2006, pp.85-118). Visual studies has many of the features of an academic discipline. As well as textbooks and courses there are a number of journals which emerged in recent years to provide an outlet and focus for research on "the visual" (for some reason the year 2002 appears to be a significant date).3) In one of the key texts of visual studies, Gillian ROSE notes that there is a growing range of different approaches in the humanities and social sciences which have developed visual methodologies. She introduces her readers to nine different approaches: compositional interpretation; content analysis; semiology; psychoanalysis; discourse analysis which focuses on texts; discourse analysis which focuses on institutions; audience studies; anthropological approaches; and photo-elicitation (2007). DIKOVITSKAYA (2006) suggests that "visual studies" largely draws its intellectual resources from cultural studies and art history. ELKINS suggests that Roland BARTHES, Walter BENJAMIN, Michel FOUCAULT, Jacques LACAN "and two or three others ... are, effectively, the theoretical bases of visual culture" (2003, p.33). The list might suggest a canon for visual studies, but it also betrays ELKINS's particular interest in visual culture. PROSSER would no doubt suggest a different canon, one which reflects his interest in the use of visual technologies to investigate social phenomena. [16]

Visual studies is perhaps not so much an embryonic discipline as a wide range of different approaches which share an interest in, that vague and seemingly all-encompassing term, "the visual". In our experience there seem to be five main strands to what might be called visual studies. Probably the dominant strand is those researchers, such as James ELKINS, who are primarily interested in visual culture. Researchers in this tradition are interested in cultural artefacts and how these are related to society more broadly. This strand draws its intellectual resources primarily from cultural studies and art history. It is the strand in which visual artists seem to feel most comfortable. The Journal of Visual Culture is in this tradition. A second strand is those researchers, like Jon PROSSER, who use visual methods to explore social phenomenona in their fieldwork. This strand has its roots in visual anthropology and visual sociology. The journal Visual Studies is the main outlet for work in this tradition. The third strand has its roots in linguistics and adapted methods for the study of conversation, text and other forms of communication, through to the study of visual and audio-visual communication. The journal Visual Communication is in this tradition. Advocates of these three strands see themselves as working in the field of visual studies, and the leading figures in each strand are aware of the work that is being undertaken in other strands, and draw on this work. The fourth strand is audience studies. People working in this strand probably think of themselves as belonging to a sub-discipline of media and communication studies, rather than belonging to visual studies. They have, however, made an important contribution to visual studies through their focus on audiences, which are often neglected in studies of visual culture and visual communication, and treated in a different way by researchers who conduct fieldwork. The fifth strand we can discern is infographics, which is concerned with the visual display of non-visual data. This strand has emerged from an encounter between graphic design, computing and information management. The growth of new digital technologies, and particularly graphic user interfaces such as the web and computer gaming, have significantly expanded the interest in this area. The central intellectual reference point for this strand is the work of Edward TUFTE (see e.g.: 1990, 2001).4) [17]

Our characterisation of five strands draws attention to the diversity of approaches which can make a claim to being visual studies.5) It draws attention to their different disciplinary origins and areas of interest. In reality, however, probably most of the social scientists who are doing work which could be described as visual studies are located within long established disciplines. They employ visual methodologies in their work, but they are located in sociology departments, or in health or education. Our characterisation also excludes interesting work on "the visual" which is being undertaken in other areas of the social sciences. There is, for example, interesting work being undertaken under the banner of surveillance studies which students of visual studies, and migration studies, could fruitfully engage with (see e.g.: LYON, 1994). [18]

An alternative way to approach visual studies is not to focus on its traditions, but to conceptually distinguish different dimensions of the study of the visual. Gillian ROSE has suggested a framework which we have found useful. She distinguishes between three different "sites at which the meanings of an image are made: the site(s) of the production of an image, the site of the image itself, and the site(s) where it is seen by various audiences" (2007, p.13; emphasis in the original). She goes on to make a further distinction, between three different modalities—technological, compositional and social—which operate at each of these sites. The technological refers to "any form of apparatus designed either to be looked at or to enhance natural vision, from oil paintings to television and the Internet" (p.13; citing MIRZOEFF, 1998a, p.1). The compositional "refers to the specific material qualities of an image or visual object ... content, colour and spatial organization, for example" (ROSE, 2007, p.13). ROSE says that her use of the term social is shorthand and what she means "it to refer to are the range of economic, social and political relations, institutions and practices that surround an image and through which it is seen and used" (2007, p.13). She then goes on to say that many "of the theoretical disagreements about visual culture, visualities and visual objects can be understood as disputes over which of these sites and modalities are most important, how and why" (pp.13-14). [19]

A new discipline called "visual studies" might yet emerge, Whether it does or not, there are still good reasons why scholars should become more familiar with visual methodologies. The development of visual technologies present new possibilities for extending the ways that we conduct social science research, and these are worth exploring further. The proliferation of visual technologies also means that they are increasingly becoming part of people's everyday lives, so we, as social scientists, are going to increasingly encounter this in our research. The new visual technologies also present new opportunities to present our research in different ways. We are, for example, pleased that FQS agreed to publish this special issue, because many of the articles presented here could not be adequately presented in the conventional format of a paper journal. [20]

3. Migration and Migration Studies

In the previous section we assumed the reader had no prior knowledge of visual studies, in this section we assume no prior knowledge of migration studies. The first part of this section introduces the reader to some key terms and some of the key features of contemporary migration. In the second part we provide readers with a brief overview of migration studies. In the third part we focus on the specific topic of migration and social division, and we draw on the articles in this edited collection as examples of work which engages with this topic. [21]

3.1 Contemporary migration

In western Europe when we talk about migration we tend to mean immigration. In the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, for example, more people left Britain than entered, but public discussion focused on immigration and immigration controls (SKELLINGTON, 1996). There was virtually no discussion of emigration. This Eurocentric view also tends to use the term "migration" to refer to international migration, the movement of people across national boundaries. Many of the largest migratory flows in the world today, however, are internal migratory flows from rural areas to the urban centres of industrialising countries such as India and China (see e.g.: CHAN, 2009).6) Even if we confine ourselves to international migration, however, the term covers a range of different migratory flows, and these flows are also evolving as new forms of migration emerge. As CASTLES and MILLER note:

"people migrate as manual workers, highly qualified specialists, entrepreneurs, refugees or as family members of previous migrants ... New forms of mobility are emerging: retirement migration, mobility in search of better (or just different) lifestyles, repeated or circular movement. The barrier between migration and tourism is becoming blurred, as some people travel as tourists to check out potential migration destinations" (2009, p.4). [22]

The Eurocentric view of international migration also seems to assume that most migration is from the global South to the (post)industrial nations of the West. The proportion of the world's migrants who move country within the global South (57% in 2000) is, however, more than twice those who move from the global South to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries (24.9% in 2000) (see Table 1). [23]


Sending countries—millions (%)



Rest of the World



22.2 (16.2)

34.1 (24.9)

56.3 (41.1)

Rest of the World

2.5 (1.8)

77.9 (57.0)

80.4 (58.8)


24.7 (18.0)

112 (81.9)

136.7 (100)

Table 1: Migration between OECD countries and the rest of the world, 2000 (HARRISON, BRITTON & SWANSON, 2004, p.4)7) [24]

In the quarter century from 1980 to 2005 the number of international migrants more than doubled, from an estimated 99 million to an estimated 191 million. The proportion of the world's population who are migrants has, however, remained fairly stable, between two and three percent (CASTLES & MILLER, 2009, p.5). The vast majority of the world's population do not move country. Those who do move country are more likely to come from some countries than others. Between 2000 and 2002 the countries with the largest outflows of emigrants were Mexico (10.1 million), India (9 million), Bangladesh (6.6 million), China (5.8 million) and the UK (4.2 million).8) If we look at these figures as a proportion of their countries' population, however, we find that Mexico and the UK are much more likely than China or India to "send" migrants abroad. Migrants also tend to travel to neighbouring countries, rather than long distances (almost 93% of Mexican migrants, for example, have moved to a neighbouring country, most of them to the USA).9) Some countries are also more likely than others to receive immigrants. Current United Nations (UN) estimates put the United States of America (USA) well ahead of the rest of the world (42.8 million immigrants). The UN estimates of the top five receiving countries in 2010 are: the USA, the Russian Federation (12.3 million), Germany (10.8 million), Saudi Arabia (7.3 million) and Canada (7.2 million).10) [25]

3.2 Migration studies

Migration studies, in contrast with visual studies, is a relatively mature discipline within the social sciences. There are a number of well established journals devoted to the study of migration, and there are even journals for some of the subfields within migration studies.11) There are undergraduate and postgraduate courses in migration studies, and there are a range of academic research centres which specialise in the study of migration. Virtually every discipline in the social sciences has made some contribution to migration studies. HOLLIFIELD and BRETTELL's edited collection, for example, contains contributions from the fields of anthropology, demography, economics, history, law, political science/international relations and sociology (2007).12) Many scholars working on the topic of migration, (e.g. demographers and economists), exclusively employ quantitative methods. There has, however, been extensive work in the field which employs qualitative methods. In this journal alone, for example, there has been an edited collection on the use of qualitative methods in migration research in Europe (BORKERT, MARTÍN PÉREZ, SCOTT & DE TONA, 2006), and numerous individual articles and articles in collections on other topics (see e.g.: AMELINA, 2010; BOURA, 2006; KÖTTIG, 2009; SHERIDAN & STORCH, 2009). The literature in the field of migration studies is immense (for a concise and lively introduction to contemporary migration see: STALKER, 2001; for comprehensive overviews of migration and migration studies see: MASSEY et al., 1998; CASTLES & MILLER, 2009). [26]

One of the most prominent features of contemporary migration studies is its heavy policy orientation. This policy orientation is, in part, a product of the funding which is provided by national governments and international bodies (such as the International Organisation for Migration [IOM]) and a range of NGOs and pressure groups. The heavy policy orientation is also a reflection of the level of policy activity around migration in recent years. Much of this policy activity is heavily contested, by academics and civil society groups, although there is often little appetite for making this a more widely politicised debate in society. Some of the contemporary debates concern: "managed migration" versus "open borders" (LEGRAIN, 2007; VEENKAMP, BENTLEY & BUONFINO, 2003); the securitisation of migration (particularly since 9-11 and the development of the War on Terror) (FEKETE, 2009; HUYSMANS, 2006); and the role of migrant remittances in economic development in the global South (DE HAAS, 2008). Since the re-emergence of global recession, migration scholars have taken an interest in the impact of the recession on migrants and on migrant flows (FIX et al., 2009). [27]

Despite this seemingly vigorous health of migration studies, some of its leading scholars are dissatisfied with the state of the discipline. One of the most comprehensive assessments of contemporary research on migration, concludes that:

"In reviewing empirical literature from around the world, the most striking feature is the degree to which current research is unconnected not just to a particular theory, but to any theory at all. If our knowledge of international migration is to advance, researchers working in all [migration] systems must make greater efforts to familiarize themselves with the principal theories of international migration, and formulate research designs capable of testing their leading propositions" (MASSEY et al., 1998, p.293). [28]

Two of the leading European based scholars of migration, in terms which echo GRADY's (2008) lament about the state of research which employs visual methodologies, complain that: "although it has gained recognition as an important research area in several disciplines, international migration has not thus far become integrated into their mainstream agendas, either empirical or theoretical. Yet such mainstream integration is evidently needed" (BOMMES & MORAWSKA, 2005, p.2). [29]

There have been some attempts to rethink the study of migration in recent years. A number of scholars working within the field have questioned one of the core assumptions of migration studies—the assumption of the nation-state as the core unit of analysis in the study of migration. One strand of this critique has chastised migration studies for its "methodological nationalism" (WIMMER & GLICK-SCHILLER, 2002) the other main strand has been articulated through the concept of "transnationalism" (VERTOVEC, 1999, 2003). Others, working outside of the specialist area of migration studies, have raised questions and advanced ideas which have presented challenges, and potential intellectual resources, to those working in migration studies. Work on globalisation has suggested that a range of social processes—space-time compression, disembedding of everyday life, weakening of nation-states, the shift from production to consumption, technological changes, particularly in transport and information and communication technologies (ICTs)—have led to a radically different world in which mobility is fundamental to the modern condition (BAUMAN, 2000; CASTELLS, 2009; HELD, McGREW, GOLDBLATT & PERATTON, 1999; URRY, 2007). CASTELLS has written very little about migration himself, and would certainly not be considered a migration studies scholar. His work on the "network society" has, however, been a reference point for much discussion by leading scholars in migration studies (see e.g.: CASTLES, 2007). URRY has stimulated migration scholars through drawing attention to a range of global movements of people—tourists, business travellers and commuters (some of whom cross national borders to work)—which are not usually examined in migration studies, and through suggesting "mobility" as a paradigm through which to make sense of contemporary society (see e.g.: GILLIGAN & MARLEY, 2010; in this issue). [30]

From this brief outline of migration studies we can see that there is a definite appetite for new approaches to the study of migration. Can the use of visual methodologies stimulate new approaches and bring new insights to the study of migration? In the next section we outline the contents of this special issue. In the subsequent section we explore the possible contributions that visual methodologies can bring to the study of migration and social division. [31]

4. The Contributions to this Issue

In the first article in this issue, Melanie FRIEND reflects on the decisions she took as a photographer and journalist in the production of an exhibition and publication addressing the experience of immigration detainees in the UK. By means of outlining her approach to an earlier exhibition addressing repression in Kosovo, FRIEND points to the inadequacies of lone still images in representing "hidden violence". The article provides an account of her research with detainees in "immigration removal centres" (IRC) in the UK, and her search for alternative representations that may lead audiences to reflect on UK migration policy. FRIEND describes how her empirical research led her to juxtapose in her exhibition Border Country photographs of the "sterile calm" of the institutional environment of IRCs with sound recordings in which detainees express intimate details. [32]

The development of interactive spatial montage as a means by which researchers may work with visual data is the subject of Judith ASTON's article. By means of outlining the place accorded to ethnographic recordings within anthropological analysis, and recent developments in technology allowing for the creation of interactive spatial montages, ASTON points to the contribution that new approaches to spatial montage can make in terms of allowing audiences/researchers to interact with fieldwork data. In her article she describes how her collaboration with the anthropologist Wendy JAMES (who had collected audio-visual material during her 40 year study of a community in the Sudan/Ethiopian borderlands) has developed through three stages. In the first, video clips were introduced into a written article, thereby enabling the user to intuitively explore the material at his/her own pace and examine juxtapositions. This led on to the production of a website, and a consideration of the ethical questions raised in putting research material online. The third stage of the collaboration is ongoing work on the development of a flexible database with which users can explore JAMES' fieldwork recordings through a fluid interface and link with other sources. [33]

In the third contribution to this issue, Tristan BRUSLÉ uses photographs of Nepalese migrant workers in Qatar in order to examine the experience of segregation. Following an introduction, BRUSLÉ provides an outline of recent migration history in Qatar, and positions recent Nepalese migrants in Qatar's socially divided host society. His account of the experience of producing and analyzing photographs taken in different spatial settings (residential, work, commuting and leisure), and at different spatial levels (city, building, room), points to the practical limits and advantages of photographs in uncovering segregation as a gendered, hierarchical, competitive and adaptive experience. [34]

In the following article, Susan BALL and Petros PETSIMERIS address maps as a means of representing social division across space. In the context of rising levels of interest in "the visual" in geography and reduced levels of interest in cartography within the discipline as taught in the English-speaking world, they (re)present earlier work by geographers on the semiotics of maps. When applied to a limited number of maps of social division, including two "classics", BALL and PETSIMERIS show the continuing relevance of earlier work on map semiotics. In concluding their article they point to the cognitive and political roles which maps continue to play in developing audience's understanding of social division. [35]

Olga DEN BESTEN's contribution to this issue is also based on maps and the representation of socio-spatial division, but this time using maps of subjective territory prepared by children in two socially contrasted neighbourhoods in Berlin. After introducing Berlin as a city of migration with a fragmented pattern of residential settlement, DEN BESTEN relates the theme of segregation and segregated childhoods to her choice of neighbourhoods. She goes on to show how subjective maps may provide the user with a rare insight into (immigrant) children's use of urban space. DEN BESTEN outlines how Interviews with the children, their teachers and parents, and observation of the neighbourhoods, helped frame the context within which she interpreted the maps. By contrasting the two sets of maps, she highlights the very different childhoods (in terms of activities and geographies) lived out in the two neighbourhoods. In the conclusions to her article, DEN BESTEN uses her results to question stereotypical representations of the activities of children in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, and to address policy implications. [36]

In Nicole DOERR's article, she addresses the use of visual images by a non-institutional activist network against precarity and restrictive immigration policies in the EU. DOERR explores how images and verbal texts were produced, exchanged and interpreted by locally situated participants in a transnational EuroMayday parade network of homepages. Considering the network as a transnational public space, DOERR examines how images and words appearing in this technological modality can be used to further discursive theories of democracy. In her methodology, DOERR uses a multi-modal approach (visual analysis, ethnography and discourse analysis applied to written texts) in order to examine the relationship between images and verbal texts. She shows how these texts represent and question the mainstream representation of precarious workers (including undocumented migrants). DOERR's multi-modal methodology enables her to point to participants' use of a "visual dialogue", as well as a verbal dialogue, as a means of politicizing precarity. In concluding, DOERR highlights the role which "visual dialogue" may play in the production of new representations of migration and social division. [37]

Chris GILLIGAN and Carol MARLEY's contribution to this issue allows us to witness a dialogue in which the authors address the narrative content of images of migration and social division. By means of drawing on a widely distributed photograph produced by a professional photographer, and a sequence of photographs produced by GILLIGAN with the aim of providing a less stereotypical and more humanistic representation of migration, the authors start by addressing narrativity at the site of these images. In her summary account of "the grammar of images", MARLEY shows how visual semiotic analysis can be used in the interpretation of images. Applying this methodology to the two sets of images, MARLEY illustrates the means by which audience members can be drawn into these images' narrative content. GILLIGAN continues the dialogue by means of turning attention to interpretation outside of the image itself, and outlining the conceptual rather than narrative function of images. MARLEY's response to GILLIGAN confirms the importance of audience interpretation in the study of the visual, and does so by means of highlighting "the narrative turn" in a variety of texts. In concluding their discourse, GILLIGAN and MARLEY reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their different approaches to the visualisation of migration. [38]

José Ricardo CARVALHEIRO's article focuses on discourses of "race" as presented in the text and images of the lifestyle magazine Afro. CARVALHEIRO provides the context for his examination of Afro, a magazine aimed at young women of African origin living in Portugal, by means of outlining the development of discourses of "race" as applied by the Portuguese during colonial times. He identifies three lines of discourse (difference, assimilation and interaction/fusion) that appear in contemporary Portugal in different forms, including words and images. Following a brief outline of the treatment of persons of African origin in Portuguese official statistics, CARVALHEIRO introduces Afro and positions it as testament to a discourse of difference in Portuguese society. In examining the discourse of three randomly chosen editions of Afro, CARVALHEIRO combines ideas taken from visual semiotics and linguistic analysis. In his discourse analysis he draws attention to gender differences in representation, and the role of the transnational movement of texts. CARVALHEIRO concludes by confirming the coexistence of the three discourses of "race" in the case of Afro, and the role they may play in addressing the "race" question in Portuguese society. [39]

Barbara WOLBERT reflects on the exhibition "Projekt Migration" (Cologne, October 2005-January 2006) in order to critically examine the attempted musealisation of the migration history of the gastarbeiter ("guest workers") who came to Germany in the 1950s. These demands for a museum of migration are motivated by a concern that the contribution which migrants have made to German society has gone largely unacknowledged, or is actively denied. WOLBERT argues that, contrary to what those who have politically agitated for it want, a museum of migration may not achieve proper acknowledgement of the part of immigrants in German society. She suggests that the materiality of the objects, displayed in the context of a museum space, put into operation a dichotomy between "us" (the German museum visitor with a non-migrant background) and "them" (the immigrants). She argues for the necessity of art in exhibitions on labour migration, and in any future museum of migration. Unlike the work of curators, the work of artists has clearly and explicitly assigned authorship. This draws attention to the constructed nature of the work on show. This inserts critical distance between the viewer and the object they are viewing. This critical distance helps to avoid a voyeuristic stance in which viewers feel as though they have a neutral gaze into the lives of migrants. [40]

5. Visualising Migration and Social Division

It is notable that trends in migration studies are also to be found in the visual arts. The policy orientated work in the social sciences is paralleled in the work of some visual artists. FRIEND's touring photography and audio exhibition, and accompanying publication, Border Country, makes an intervention into debates around asylum policy in the United Kingdom (2007: see also this volume, 2010). HAUGHEY (2010) has created a range of visually based artist interventions around asylum-seekers in the Republic of Ireland and Malta. His art project How to be a Model Citizen makes an intervention into the Citizenship Referendum and broader citizenship debate in the Republic of Ireland and his most recent exhibition The Pre-history of the Crisis (2) attempts to open up public discussion on the economic crisis, and in particular its impact on migrants.13) BAL (2008), in a move which parallels the work of BAUMAN and URRY, has suggested the concept of the "migratory aesthetic" to capture the sense in which the experience of mobility, or liquid modernity, is fundamental to our lived experience in contemporary society (rather than being an experience that is specific to those who are geographically mobile). In keeping with her position as a theorist and visual arts practitioner BAL organised a touring exhibition on the theme of movement, which included work by a number of artists working on the theme of migration (BAL & HERNÁNDEZ-NAVARRO, 2008). It is also worth noting that there has been some recent work on the topic of migration which blurs the boundaries between the social sciences and the visual arts. Examples of this include O'BRIEN and GROSSMAN's (2007) edited collection of work which examines migration through 'lens based' practices, and O'NEILL's use of "ethno-mimesis" in her work with refugees and asylum seekers (2008; O'NEILL & HUBBARD, 2010). The use of visual methods in research on migration is not a new phenomenon. BERGER and MOHR's (1975) study of male southern and eastern European migrant workers in northern Europe is an early example of such work, and also provides an interesting crossover between the social sciences and the visual arts. It would be fair to say, however, that the number of studies which employ visual methodologies in research on migration has been very limited, and there has been very little reflection on the use of visual methodologies in research on migration. [41]

In the introduction to this article we asked whether the work of visual artists, and social scientists who employ visual methodologies, was merely illustrative, illuminating or interdisciplinary? We also asked if the visual arts and the social sciences are irreconcilable, do they each represent one of two cultures—the former concerned with aesthetics, the latter with objective scientific laws—which don't, can't or won't speak to each other? And we asked where we might locate social scientists who employ visual methodologies, as intermediaries who can help to reconcile arts based work with scholarship in the social sciences, or as idiosyncratic individuals who seem equally out of place in the arts and social sciences? In this section we tentatively explore some of these possibilities. We do this through grounding our exploration in the specific topic of migration and social division. [42]

In the first part we ask what do social scientists as researchers have to gain from learning about visual methodologies. In the second part we explore the potential, and limitations, of visual methodologies for studying migration and social division through examining what, if any, contribution the articles in this special issue make to an understanding of five key topics in the study of migration and social division: segregation, inequality and discrimination based on difference, labour market segmentation, processes of racialisation/ethnic group formation and, citizenship and belonging. In the third part we turn the focus around and ask if there are blindspots in the study of migration and social division which some of the contributions to this special issue draw attention to. [43]

5.1 What can social scientists gain through adopting visual methodologies?

There are a wide range of visual methodologies available to the social scientist. The nine contributions to this issue each take a different approach, and they do not come anywhere near exhausting the possibilities on offer. This section is not an "everything you need to know about visual methodologies", but a flavour of some of the reasons why it might be worth considering the use of visual methodologies. In part of the article we will examine the possibilities through the prism of the distinction that PROSSER and LOXLEY (2008) make between "researcher created", "respondent generated" and "found" visual data. Virtually any visual medium can generate found, researcher created or respondent generated visual data. In their article on (anti-) narrativity in images of people on the move, for example, GILLIGAN and MARLEY analyse photographs of African migrants, washed up on beaches in Spain, which they "found" on the internet. They contrast these images with a sequence of photographs "created" by GILLIGAN at a shopping district in a multicultural British city. Their analysis could be extended by asking research respondents to "generate" their own photographic images of migration. [44]

Researchers created images can serve different purposes in the research process. BRUSLÉ, for example, took photographs as part of his ethnographic investigation. He points out that when conducting fieldwork, particularly in the early stages, the researcher is bombarded with a flow of new information which is very difficult to record in detail. Taking photographs allowed him to gather rich, detailed and contextualised data, which he could reflect on at a later stage. The images created by the researcher can also be a useful device to engage with research participants. In her article FRIEND describes how she discussed her "researcher generated" photographs with the immigration detainees who were her research subjects. This kind of participatory research is becoming more common in the social sciences. She explains how her decision to use photographs of the stark interiors of immigration removal centres was guided by her subjects directing her away from the use of portraits in the exhibition that she was working towards. FRIEND's experience provides an illustration of GOLD's claim that the sharing of researcher created data with research subject "can provide a corrective to academic distancing" in research on migration (2004, p.145). Another benefit of a more participatory approach is provided by BRUSLÉ in his article when he describes how he was provided with a photographs taken by one of his research subjects. BRUSLÉ makes the point that there are some places which are not accessible to the researcher, or not easily accessible, but which are routinely accessed by research subjects. This photograph provided BRUSLÉ with an image of an area that he did not personally have access to. More importantly for BRUSLÉ, however, this photograph provided a contrast with the images that he himself had captured, and provoked him to think about some of the ways that his research subjects presented themselves differently to different audiences. In her article DEN BESTEN provides a photograph of each of the two districts of Berlin where she carried out research on migrant children's experience of segregation. These images are not, however, the focus of her analysis. They are provided to illustrate points that she makes in her article. This example shows that researcher created images can be useful in the presentation of research, not just in the fieldwork stage. [45]

The main method that DEN BESTEN employed was to gather "respondent generated" visual data. In her case, this consisted of children's drawings of their locality. The use of drawing as a technique to generate research data can be useful in situations where more conventional approaches, such as interview or open-ended questionnaires, are inappropriate because the research subjects involved feel inhibited and/or they have limited literacy skills and/or they are less articulate, and/or lack focus in their thinking. Another benefit of respondent generated data is that it allows the participants to self-select details which are relevant to them. DEN BESTEN was able to build up rapport with the children while they were focused on the drawing task, and she was subsequently able to interview the children and take part in discussions that each child had in part framed. DEN BESTEN is the only one in this collection who employed a respondent generated approach to visual data gathering, but there are a range of approaches which social scientists might find useful. One of the strengths of visual imagery for research purposes is its capacity to evoke memory. This can be a useful aid to interviewing (and is increasingly commonly practice in what is called photo-elicitation, the use of photographs to stimulate and provide a focus for discussion on a particular topic). [46]

With the development of new, cheap and abundant visual technologies it is increasingly common for social scientists to encounter a visual dimension in their research. DOERR, a scholar of social movements, encountered a visual dimension to the protest movement against precarity which she studied. In her article she reflects on the role that protest images, in the form of political posters websites and a sticker book, played in the development of this transnational protest network. Other contributors to this collection work with existing visual data they "found" during the course of their research. Social scientists will benefit from learning about at least some of the range of different theoretical approaches to the analysis of visual data (whether this is found, researcher created, or respondent generated, visual data). CARVALHEIRO and MARLEY both make good use of multimodal analysis, an approach to visual data which has developed out of linguistic analysis. CARVALHEIRO uses this approach to critically interrogate "found" media images of "race" in Portugal. MARLEY employs this approach in her comparative analysis of a "found" media image of an African migrant washed up on a beach in Spain and a "researcher created" sequence of images created by GILLIGAN. WOLBERT takes a different approach in her analysis of "found" objects in a museum exhibition. She examines the social life of these visual objects and discusses how audiences relate to the objects, and are positioned by the ways that the objects are displayed. [47]

We have presented the distinction between "found", "researcher created" and "respondent generated" visual data as clearcut. In practice, however, the distinctions are not always clearcut. This is perhaps most evident in ASTON's article. The visual data that she works with were "created" by JAMES over a forty year period of field research. In this sense we might say that ASTON has "found" these images. She has also, however, created a new platform through which these images are displayed for audiences, in a way that allows the viewer to interact with the images. In this sense we might think of the viewing frame as being "researcher created". [48]

Visual materials can also act as aids to thinking. In the article by BALL and PETSIMERIS, the maps of social division prepared by BOOTH and BURGESS are shown to have played a key role in the development of new, social science theories of social division. Their analysis demonstrates that images can have a role to play in challenging widely held assertions, and in developing theories and alternative approaches to the study of migration and social division. [49]

We shall end this part of our introduction with a word of reassurance for the visually illiterate. We are not trying to argue that text and numbers based research needs to be replaced with visual research. Text and numbers based research is likely to dominate social science research for the foreseeable future. We are arguing that social scientists can extend the range of methods that they employ, and there are good reasons to consider extending in the direction of visual methodologies. GOLD suggests that such an "integrated" approach, in which images and other forms of information are used, may be a useful way of avoiding the two extremes of considering images as merely illustrative or as central to social scientific research (2004, pp.142-143). Images are one source of information that can play an important role in bringing researchers closer to their subjects and audiences, and in developing ways of thinking about and in these fields. [50]

5.2 Visual methodologies and five key topics in the study of migration and social division

We have already noted that most of the European literature on migration is focused on immigration. Within the literature on immigration the theme of social division looms large. This is true of the academic literature, but is even more the case for official policy documents and the extensive grey literature on the topic. The contemporary literature is dominated by a concern with the integration of immigrants. Some of the main topics within the literature on integration include: residential segregation; inequality and discrimination based on difference; labour market segmentation; processes of racialisation/ethnic group formation; and citizenship and belonging (see e.g.: CASTLES & MILLER, 2009, pp.245-276). So one way that we can evaluate the usefulness of visual methodologies is to examine the use of visual methodologies in relation to these topics. Can visual methodologies provide any insights into migration and social division which are not already available to scholars in the field? [51]

5.2.1 Residential segregation

A number of the contributions to this special issue pay particular attention to residential segregation. The contribution by BALL and PETSIMERIS and the one by DEN BESTEN focus on mapping and segregation. BRUSLÉ also uses maps in his exploration of segregation, but his main focus is on the use of photographs to explore spatial segregation at street level, and in domestic spaces. FRIEND also uses photographs in her engagement with migrants who have been segregated from the rest of society by their enforced detention in Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs). [52]

The use of maps has been, as BALL and PETSIMERIS point out, a long-standing feature of the study of migration and segregation. Given the centrality of the Chicago School of Sociology to the development of the discipline in the United States of American it is perhaps surprising to read GRADY, an American sociologist, say that "distancing from visual inquiry is especially true of sociology" (2008, §2). It could, of course, be argued that maps are merely illustrative. Maps are visual representations of numerical data. The data on which they are based is not gathered using visual methodologies. There is truth in this. When BALL and PETSIMERIS's say that maps are only as good as the data on which they are based, they are using the underlying data as their measure of how good a map is. They go on to point out, however, that the shift from numerical data to visual presentation involves translation. Even if the data is good this can be translated into a gibberish map. The language of numbers is not a visual language, and for this reason mapmakers need to be attentive to the visual semiotics of maps. They need to be "bi-lingual"; visually literate as well as conversant in the language of numbers. [53]

DEN BESTEN's article draws attention to the fact that mapping is not necessarily a visual representation of numerical data, or tied to relatively fixed topography. All of us construct subjective maps of spatial data in our minds (how to get to the local shops, favourite places to visit, etc.). Asking people who live in "segregated" residential areas to draw maps of their locality can provide us with insights into the subjective experience of segregation (which also includes the possibility that the area in question is not experienced as segregated). This seems to us to be an example of a way in which the use of a visual methodology can be illuminating. Subjective maps provide insights which are not as easily gained by numerical or word based methods. Subjective maps could be employed with other approaches to form one strand in a strategy of triangulating data on segregation. [54]

BRUSLÉ shifts from the bird's eye view provided by maps and brings us to ground level. In his photographs we can see what segregation looks like from a viewpoint that most of us operate at, most of the time. His photographs could also be dismissed as mere illustration. The same could be said, however, of DOERR's use of interview material in her article. The quotes that she uses from her interviewees merely illustrate a point which she makes in her text. The idea that photographs, or interview material, is merely illustrative seems, to us, to be a very dismissive view of richly detailed data. BRUSLÉ draws on his visual and written observations, his fieldnotes, to reflect on the segregation of Nepalese migrant workers in Qatar. There is only so much that he can say, however, in the space of an article. The images may illustrate points which he makes, but they cannot be contained by these points. The images carry much more information, and are capable of many more readings than he is able to provide in the space of his article. Providing the images alongside BRUSLÉ's analysis allows the reader to engage with this material and make their own judgements. [55]

The three contributions considered so far in this subsection are all from social scientists. FRIEND works in the visual arts. Her photographs of rooms in IRCs, like DEN BESTEN's subjective maps and BRUSLÉ's photographs, provide us with a view into the lifeworld of the research participants. FRIEND's photographs, however, operate with a very different register than the images that BRUSLÉ and DEN BESTEN have been involved in creating and analysing. In her article FRIEND reflects on the research process leading up to her exhibition Border Country. This writing is presented in the kind of discursive mode which we normally encounter in academic writing. It is relatively dispassionate in form and involves the author taking a critical distance from her practice and reflecting on it. The images, however, are a different matter entirely. They evoke an emotional response. They are haunting. They do their work through making it difficult for us to draw meaning from them. FRIEND draws our attention to the fact that the form of representation matters. The disjuncture between the image, (in which there are no people), and the audio, (in which the people who FRIEND met in these rooms are a spectral presence, as voices), disrupts our expectation that what we hear will relate to what we see. The visual form also works at other levels. The absence of people in the pictures hints at the purpose of the IRCs, to remove the people held there from public view (GILLIGAN, 2008). [56]

5.2.2 Inequality and discrimination based on difference

In her contribution DEN BESTEN acknowledges that "social division" is a very broad term which can include many types of "difference" such as age, health, religion and styles of life. She draws on the work of ANTHIAS to suggest that class, ethnicity and gender are the principle forms of stratified social division in modern societies. The multidimensional nature of social division is well established in the literature on migration and social division. It has even given rise to intersectionality theory which "argues that it is important to look at the way in which different social divisions inter-relate in terms of the production of social relations and in terms of peoples lives" (ANTHIAS, 2008, p.13). BRUSLÉ's photographs provide illustrations of the intersection of a number of dimensions of social division of gender (all of the migrant workers are male), social class (they are involved in relatively unskilled manual labour), ethnicity (they are south Asians, living and working in an oil rich Gulf state) and, nationality (they are Nepalese, not Qataris). The powerful impact of the collection of images presented by BRUSLÉ may owe something to the fact that these dimensions of social division so comprehensively overlap in the case of Nepalese migrant workers in Qatar. It is probably fair to say, however, that in terms of understanding inequality and discrimination based on difference these images are illustrations and the real work of understanding the social processes involved is undertaken elsewhere. [57]

5.2.3 Labour market segmentation

BRUSLÉ's photographs also provide powerful illustrations of labour market segmentation, in which Qatari citizens and highly educated migrant workers from the West hold well paid skilled occupations, and south Asian migrants work in low wage menial occupations. These photographs, however, show us the outcomes of the highly regulated labour market in Qatar, they do not themselves provide an understanding of how this labour market operates. DOERR's analysis also draws attention to workers who hold precarious positions in the labour market. The visual materials which she provides, however, do not provide an illustration of labour market segmentation, or even of secondary labour markets. The activist posters and webpages which she analyses were produced as an integral part of transnational political protest action. These posters visually represent the attempts by these activists to promote joint activity by migrant workers and indigenous workers who share a position of precarity in labour markets. These images were created using the new visual technologies which have made the production and dissemination of visual materials cheaper and easier. [58]

5.2.4 Processes of racialisation/ethnic group formation

Like many terms in the social sciences, there is no agreed usage of the term racialisation. Broadly speaking it involves the idea that "racial" or "ethnic" groups are not natural entities, but that they are created through social processes.14) Scholars who employ the term point to the variability of boundaries between "racial groups" and to the variable and changing nature of the content which defines the "group" (MURJI & SOLOMOS, 2005). In this special issue there are examples of three different ways in which there is a visual dimension to processes of racialisation. Racial representations in the media are explored by CARVALHEIRO in his analysis of "race" in Portugal. Racialised representation is also evident in the media images of African migrants analysed by GILLIGAN and MARLEY. "Race" can also develop as a "commonsense" marker of difference, if it seems to be socially significant in everyday experience. The photographs taken by BRUSLÉ hint at this kind of processes of racialisation; in particular the images which contrast the tidy, ordered and air-conditioned shopping centre frequented by affluent Qataris with the busy, and littered, market frequented by South Asian migrant workers. A visual dimension to processes of racialisation does not have to involve a reference to phenotype.15) Another form in which visual materials are implicated in processes of racialisation is provided by BALL and PETSIMERIS in their analysis of maps. A number of the maps they discuss provide visual representations of what has been referred to as the "racialisation of statistics" in which "race" or "ethnicity" is "introduced into the definition or data-collection exercise as a factor of some importance" (GORDON, 1996, p.23). [59]

In the academic literature there is "broad agreement that racialisation is something detrimental that is done to others as part of a power relationship" (GARNER, 2010, p.20). It is also recognised, however, that there can be racialisation "from below" in which a racialised group is involved in constructing a group identity. In the literature on migration and social division this process is usually referred to as ethnic group formation. CARVALHEIRO provides a very detailed discussion of the process of racialisation, which outlines both racialisation "from above" and racialisation "from below". In his account of "race" in Portugal he points to various officially promoted discourses of "race" and to ways in which the representation of "race" by the Portuguese state has shifted at different points in Portuguese history. He then goes on to provide a nuanced discussion of racialised representations in a magazine aimed at women of African origin, or descent, living in Portugal. [60]

All of the contributors mentioned here provide material that could be utilised in discussions of racialisation, or ethnic group formation. CARVALHEIRO, however, is the only author who does so in any depth. The process of racialisation is not a central feature of the other articles. This is not a criticism of the authors concerned, the process of racialisation was not a topic they were aiming to explore. We have included them in this section to indicate some of the ways in which there are visual dimensions to the process of racialisation, or ethnic group formation, which could be fruitfully explored in detail. CARVALHEIRO provides an interesting case study of media representation. Case studies which use visual methodologies to explore racialisation in everyday experience, and racialisation in mapping, would enrich the existing literature on migration and social division. [61]

5.2.5 Citizenship and belonging

Three contributions to the special issue touch on the topic of citizenship and belonging. BRUSLÉ and FRIEND provide case studies of people who are denied citizenship. BRUSLÉ examines the position of Nepalese migrant workers who are only permitted to enter Qatar under a strictly regulated system which denies them many basic rights. Certain of the images show some of the ways that the Nepalese workers exercise their own agency, within the strict limits placed on them, to create forms of association. He shows how they claim social spaces as places which belong to them, within a broader structure which denies them power. The migrants that FRIEND worked with are denied even more rights than the Nepalese migrant workers. As asylum-seekers in the United Kingdom they are not even allowed to work, as detainees they are denied free movement within public spaces. In her photographs, as we have already mentioned, FRIEND visually represents this exclusion through their absence from the images. She represents the humanity of the detainees that she worked with through the audio clip extracts from interviews she conducted with them. The images that DOERR analyses are produced by active citizens who are engaged in politically contesting what they view as a limited form of citizenship which is available in Europe today. They achieve this visually through campaign posters which represent migrant and indigenous workers as occupying the same social space. The maps which they have created also challenge the clear demarcation of national and European bordered political territory, and in doing so attempt to challenge the territorial binding of citizenship. [62]

5.3 Inadequacies of visual studies, or of the study of migration and social division?

Why have some of our contributors only been mentioned once, or not at all, so far? Does this indicate that these contributors are idiosyncratic, that they do not fit easily into the study of migration and social division? Does this indicate that they have little to contribute? Or could it indicate deficiencies in current research on migration and social division? Rather than asking scholars who use visual methodologies to justify their relevance it is worth turning the gaze onto scholars of migration and social division and ask: why do the key topics that you investigate seem to exclude the work of scholars who claim to make a contribution to your area of research interest? It seems to us that there are two interrelated themes which occur in the articles which were sidelined in the previous section on key topics; time and movement. [63]

5.3.1 Time as a social divide (or the past as a foreign country)

In her reflections on the musealisation of migration WOLBERT suggests that the unchanged appearance of the objects held in museums give the impression of time standing still. The migrants' material objects which are displayed, as representative of migration, tend to be objects from the first few years in the country of immigration (Germany in this case). These objects eternalise an image of immigration as a struggle to adjust to new surroundings, with limited resources. This freezing of time, she suggests, promotes a "them" and "us" dichotomy in which migrants are presented as inhabiting a different reality to "us". She points out that the objects which are on display are available to the museum because they have been offered up by people who have moved on from that stage of their life. Their donation is an indication of the extent to which the donors have become integrated into (German) society. WOLBERT argues that the "guest-workers" who arrived in the 1950s have become integrated into German society as producers, service providers and consumers. If a museum of migration wants to accurately document the process of migration, she suggests, it should show contemporary consumer goods such as personal computers or ATM cards as part of the story. [64]

Time is also a feature of ASTON's article. ASTON provides us with visual data on a group of displaced people in the Sudanese/Ethiopian borderlands. Her article, however, tells us very little about these Uduk-speaking people. The focus of her article is on ASTON's work developing a digital interface which allows audiences to interact with ethnographic films of these refugees. The article shows some of the possibilities which new digital visual technologies open up for presenting data in novel ways. The web-based digital interface, which is still in the process of testing and development, allows the viewer to have several movie screens displayed simultaneously on the same webpage. Through this visual "montage" viewers can explore the rich ethnographic data, and see contrasts, and continuities, across time and between different locations, or different migrants. On one of the webpages, for example, there are two images on the same screen that we can switch between. One of these is a film clip of children doing a "tortoise-dance" in a village in Africa. The other is of children of Uduk-speaking people who emigrated to the USA in a furnished room watching a video which shows children doing a "tortoise-dance" in an African village (possibly a different portion of the film-clip which we can see alongside it on the webpage). The juxtaposition of the two clips illustrates the transnational existence of this displaced community in an immediate way. When we see one of the children in the USA attempt to mimic the dance we get a sense of the transmission of cultural memory being enacted across time and space. [65]

5.3.2 Movement

In Europe much of the academic literature on migration and social divisions has not been developed by scholars who have a grounding in migration studies. It is scholars with a background in the field of ethnic and racial studies who have been the main contributors to this field. For many scholars in ethnic and racial studies migration is a backdrop, a given or a stage in the process which is prior to their particular area of concern. In this sense migration is incidental to their research focus. They take migrants, rather than migration as their focus. They are interested in the ways in which migrants interact with, and are treated by, the society they have moved to. In this sense the migration part of migration and social division has largely been excluded from analysis. The "methodological nationalism" of migration studies, in which analysis is framed by assumptions about the nation-state as the unit of analysis, have been challenged in recent years by work on transnationalism. In their article, GILLIGAN and MARLEY explore the possibilities for using another new approach, the mobilities paradigm, to erase social distinctions between migrants and non-migrants as "them" and "us". They have found that the exploration of visual data has prompted, and aided, them in their attempt to challenge some of the contemporary discussions about migration and social division. [66]

6. Conclusion

In this introductory article we have set out to provide orientation for readers who are not familiar with visual studies or migration studies. We then provided an outline of the contents of the special issue. The substance of the article, however, has been our consideration of the contribution that visual methodologies might bring to the study of migration and social division. When we initially organised workshops and a conference we speculated about some possible ways in which study of "the visual" might play a role in studying migration and social division. We asked ourselves whether visual methodologies merely provided illustrations of processes that were understood using other methodologies, or if they could illuminate areas which have remained dark to social scientists. We asked if visual artists and social scientists are irreconcilable, and if social scientists who use visual methodologies are idiosyncratic oddballs. [67]

With the benefit of experience and after reflection we can say that these questions may have been misconceived. For a start we assumed that visual methodologies were an esoteric sideline in the study of migration and social division. BALL and PETSIMERIS's article demonstrates that techniques of visualisation, in the form of map-making, were intrinsic to the development of the study of migration and social division. In this regard our endeavour has constituted a revival of interest, rather than something entirely new. Our analysis suggests that the spatial dimension of migration and social division is particularly suited to the use of visual methodologies. We can also say that topics such as the process of racialisation involve a visual dimension, and as such the use of visual methodologies should be indispensable to research on this topic. In this regard we can say that visual methodologies are illuminating, they enable researchers to explore areas that would be impossible, or difficult, to explore with non-visual methods. [68]

When we asked whether visual arts and social sciences represent two different cultures, one of which is concerned with aesthetics and the other with objective scientific laws, we were presenting a very reductive view of both the visual arts and the social sciences. Many contemporary visual artists are critical of what they view as the over-aestheticisation of social phenomenon. They have taken an interest in engaging with audiences, one manifestation of this has been a growth in participatory ways of working by visual artists. Many social scientists, for their part, have been critical of what they dismiss as positivistic research. Since at least the 1970s there has been a growing acknowledgement that social science is not value-free. Some scholars in both disciplines also take an interest in the work of the other discipline. Socially engaged visual artists draw on work in the social sciences to inform their practice and there are a growing number of social scientists who take an interest in visual technologies and visual culture. [69]

It could be a coincidence that two of the articles which sit most uneasily in traditional approaches to migration and social division, the most idiosyncratic, are also the most interdisciplinary. GILLIGAN and MARLEY's article is the product of an ongoing dialogue between someone who has been based in sociology departments for more than ten years, but is a Europeanist by training (GILLIGAN) and a linguist (MARLEY). ASTON's is part of an ongoing collaboration between ASTON (a specialist in digital media practice, who has a background in the social sciences) and Wendy JAMES (an anthropologist). Or it could be an indication that interdisciplinary work helps to extend the boundaries of research and helps open up novel areas for exploration, or suggest new approaches. This does not mean that we think disciplinary boundaries should be dissolved, but that interdisciplinary approaches should be encouraged and supported. [70]

Finally we should also point out that there are limitations to visual methodologies. Those who employ visual methodologies frame their research in particular ways. Visual and non-visual scholars alike "see" what the conceptual and practical tools they are equipped with enable them to see. All methods have their limits. That is one reason why a plurality of approaches to research should be encouraged. Visual methodologies can provide insights that are not available through other methods, but they can also complement, corroborate and/or challenge non-visual methodologies. [71]


In the last few years we have been helped in our endeavours by many, many people. We would particularly like to thank Kate GOODNOW and Anthony HAUGHEY who helped to start the discussion rolling, and continued to push it along through their contributions to the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) workshops, and the Paris conference. They were excellent ambassadors for the visual arts, and generous intermediaries between the social sciences and the visual arts. We would like to thank Vincent O'BRIEN for his valiant attempts to stay on board with the project against all odds, you are sorely missed. We would also like to thank the anonymous peer reviewers, the too often forgotten supports on which good quality research rests (you know who you are, even if the scholars whose work you reviewed do not). And we would like to thank the organisations which provided financial support and services in kind. HERA, for the Joint Research Programme (JRP) Networking Grant (HERA R938ESF) which enabled us to hold the workshop at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). And UWS for providing meeting rooms free of charge. For providing the funding for the Paris Conference we would like to thank Maison des Sciences de l'Homme Paris Nord, the University of Paris 8 and the Plaine Commune. We would also like to thank the team at FQS for their assistance in dealing with the technical challenges of putting together a collection which includes multi-media elements. And we would like to record our particular thanks to Katja MRUCK for her patience and diligence in helping us to steer the whole collection to publication.

In addition to all of these Susan would like to give a particular mention to Dirk HOERDER, Lila LEONTIDOU, Didier FASSIN and Karl W. HOFFMAN, thank you all for your help and support. Chris would like to thank Pauline HADAWAY for re-stimulating his interest in the visual arts, and opening his eyes to the possibilities of visual data as a research resource. He would also like to thank Henry MILLER for showing him how to engage students in the use of visual methodologies. Finally, he would like to thank Aisling, for being herself.

Susan would like to thank Chris for his belief in both sharing and giving, and the gentle encouragement he has given to all of the contributors to this issue over the last twelve months.


The conference "Visualising Migration and Divided Societies", where the majority of the papers in this special issue were first presented, was hosted by the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme Paris Nord, on 5th June 2009.

It was supported by EA 1569 Transferts critiques et dynamiques des savoirs (domaine Anglophone), the University of Paris 8, MSH Paris Nord and Plaine Commune.

The running order and content of the event was:


1) Almost 200 people submitted abstracts in response to a call for papers for the one day conference on visualising migration and social division. <back>

2) For a useful brief summary see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_telescope [Accessed: May 20, 2010]. <back>

3) These include: the Journal of Visual Culture (first published in 2002); Visual Studies, the journal of the International Visual Sociology Association (first published in 1986 as Visual Sociology, and renamed Visual Studies in 2002); Visual Communication (first published in 2002). <back>

4) There are a range of blogsites which discuss infographics. See, for example, Flowingdata: http://flowingdata.com/, Infographics News: http://infographicsnews.blogspot.com/ [Accessed: May 20, 2010]. <back>

5) All categorisations like this are to some extent arbitrary, and the distinctions to some extent distort the work being referred to. There is, for example, a good case for treating Art History separately from the study of visual culture. There is a good case for including natural science based approaches, such as ophthalmics or the cognitive science of vision, in visual studies (see e.g.: ELKINS, 2003, pp.87-94). <back>

6) In the European Union, legislation which allows freedom of movement within the EU has blurred the distinction between international and internal migration. This blurring is a reflection of the ambiguous position of the EU as both a supranational entity (a European "superstate") and an intergovernmental organisation (a forum for conflict and cooperation between nation-states). For more on migration and the EU see: GEDDES (2008). <back>

7) These figures are estimates derived from OECD and UN statistics. They are based on a sample of 57 countries. For a detailed discussion of the methodology involved in deriving these estimates see: HARRISON et al, 2004. <back>

8) Emigrants were 10% of the total population of Mexico, 7.1% of the UK population figure and only 0.9% of India's and 0.5% of China's. <back>

9) All of the figures presented here are rounded to one decimal place. For more extensive coverage of the figures go to: http://eoedu.belspo.be/en/profs/vgt-europe-immigration.asp [Accessed: May 15, 2010]. <back>

10) These figures are cumulative totals. They represent the total number of foreign born residents (stocks of immigrants) in these countries. They should not be confused with annual migration flows. The UN figures are taken from the Migration Policy Institute website: http://www.migrationinformation.org/DataHub/charts/6.1.shtml [Accessed: May 15, 2010]. <back>

11) International Migration (established 1963), International Migration Review (1966), Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (1974). Journals which cover subfields include: Journal of Refugee Studies (1988), Immigrants and Minorities (1981). <back>

12) Within the broad field of migration studies, however, little comprehensive and multidisciplinary research has been undertaken (HARZIG, HOERDER & GABACCIA, 2009). <back>

13) For more on the project How to be a Model Citizen see: http://www.belfastexposed.org/exhibitions/?exhibition=71&year=2009&show=future. For details of The Pre-history of the Crisis (2) exhibition see: http://www.projectartscentre.ie/archive/archive-va-detail/577-the-prehistory-of-the-crisis-2 [Accessed: May 20, 2010]. <back>

14) The distinction, or commonality, between race and ethnicity is a recurring problem in ethnic and racial studies. Attempts to try and separate the two and treat them as distinct categories continually run into theoretical and practical difficulties, but using the terms interchangeably is also unsatisfactory. For more on this difficulty see: GILLIGAN (forthcoming). <back>

15) We should note that phenotype is a common, but not essential, feature of racialisation. The Irish in nineteenth century Britain, and Jews in Germany in the nineteenth century and up until the end of the Second World War are both examples of "white" groupings which were racialised as non-white (GARNER, 2010, p.21). <back>


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Susan BALL is senior lecturer in contemporary British civilization, Department of English, University of Paris 8, and researcher in the group EA1569 "Transferts critiques et dynamiques des savoirs" (domaine Anglophone). Her areas of research include urban policy, policy for the built heritage, and urban segregation.


Susan Ball

Université Paris 8
2 rue de la Liberté
93526 St-Denis

E-mail: s.ball@wanadoo.fr


Chris GILLIGAN is a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Politics and Sociology at the University of the West of Scotland. He is Reviews Editor for the journal Ethnopolitics. His current research focus is on the intersection between migration, ethnic and racial studies and peace and conflict studies. He has edited (or co-edited) three collections on the Northern Ireland peace process and his work has been published in internationally recognized journals, including: Nations and Nationalism, Journal of Peace Research, and Policy and Politics.


Dr Chris Gilligan

School of Social Sciences
University of the West of Scotland
Paisley Campus
Scotland, UK

Tel.: 0044 (0)141 848 3770

E-mail: chris.gilligan@uws.ac.uk
URL: http://westscotland.academia.edu/ChrisGilligan/


Ball, Susan & Gilligan, Chris (2010). Visualising Migration and Social Division: Insights From Social Sciences and the Visual Arts [71 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11(2), Art. 26, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1002265.

Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS)

ISSN 1438-5627

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