Mobile Flight: Refugees and the Importance of Cell Phones



This article presents results from in-depth interviews with 18 newly arrived refugees in 2016, focusing on their usage of cell phones underway to Europe. The (anonymous) informants are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Relating to previous findings and theories of globalisation and media ecology, the research concludes that the phone is used for a wide range of purposes, such as connectivity (with family, friends and potential helpers), en route companionship (not least when travelling alone), solidarity (helping each other, finding better routes and lending phones and chargers), governability (ways in which to tackle authorities) and finally, that refugees, during their weeks underway, acquire important skills contributing to their transnational media literacy. Furthermore, the interviews show the relevance of modern cell phone technology as an important part of media ecology for people on the move in precarious situations.


RefugeesFlightTransnational media literacyCell phones
  • Year: 2020
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 67–81
  • DOI: 10.33134/njmr.250
  • Submitted on 11 Apr 2020
  • Accepted on 11 Apr 2020
  • Published on 28 May 2020
  • Peer Reviewed