Professor Mirca Madianou

Staff details

Position Professor
Email m.madianou (
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7244
Professor Mirca Madianou

My research examines the social uses and consequences of communication technologies in a transnational and comparative context. My work makes theoretical and substantive contributions to the areas of migration, disaster recovery, humanitarianism and their intersection with digital technology. I have directed two ESRC grants: Humanitarian Technologies and Migration, ICTS and transnational families which have led to several publications on the social consequences of new communication technologies among marginalised and migrant populations.  My approach is ethnographic and comparative, focusing on the asymmetrical and gendered relationships between countries in the so-called global South (such as the Philippines) and the UK from the point of view of the individuals concerned. More broadly, this ethnographic research serves as the basis for more theoretical writings on media technologies, communication and social change. I am the author of Mediating the Nation: News, Audiences and the Politics of Identity (2005) and Migration and New Media: Transnational Families and Polymedia (2012 with D. Miller) as well as editor of Ethics of Media (2013 with N. Couldry and A. Pinchevski). From May 2017 I will be Chair of the Philosophy, Theory and Critique division of the International Communication Association (ICA).

I joined the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies in September 2013. Between 2004-2011 I taught at the University of Cambridge where I was Newton Trust Lecturer in Sociology and Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College. Between 2011-2013 I was Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester. I have held Research Fellowships at UCL (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Anthropology, 2002-4) and at the Centre for Research in Arts Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge (2006). My research has been funded by the ESRC, ESF, the Mellon Foundation and CRASSH, Cambridge.


I co-convene the MA Media and Communications. I teach two courses: 'Introduction to Media and Cultural Theory' and 'Social Media and Everyday Life: A Global Perspective'.

Areas of supervision

Social uses and consequences of communication technologies; migration and transnational families; media and identities in national and transnational contexts; mobile and social media in the global south and communication for development and social change; humanitarian communication; digital media in personal relationships; media audiences, especially the audiences for news media; comparative ethnography.

I welcome applications for PhD supervision in any area of my research interests.

Public engagement / media/ podcasts (selected):

Social Science Bites ‘Technology in Everyday Life’

Word of Mouth, BBC Radio 4

Thinking Allowed, BBC Radio 4

New X-change, Lines on a map, Long distance parenting

Research Interests

Current Research

The Humanitarian Technologies project:

I'm currently the PI for the ESRC grant 'Humanitarian Technologies: communication environments in disaster recovery and humanitarian intervention'.

This is an 18-month ethnography of the the uses and consequences of communication technologies in the disaster recovery from Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded with over 6000 casualties and more than 12 million people affected. The research investigates the uses of digital technologies and innovations such as mobile phones, SMS, crisis mapping and social media both by directly affected populations in the Philippines and other stakeholders (humanitarian organisations and government departments).

The World Disasters Report in 2013 uses the term 'Humanitarian Technologies' to refer to the empowering nature of communication technologies for disaster-affected communities ‘to coordinate and respond to their own problems’ which can potentially correct some of the power asymmetries of humanitarianism. Despite the current optimism surrounding the uses of digital technologies in processes of recovery and rebuilding there is little evidence to assess the impact of digital platforms for humanitarian relief. Our research aims to weigh the optimism surrounding so-called ‘humanitarian technology’ against actual benefits to users. It specifically examines the impact of communication technologies in the following critical areas: information dissemination; collective problem-solving; redistribution of resources; accountability and transparency of humanitarian efforts; and voice and empowerment of affected populations.

This 18-month ethnographic study takes place in two disaster-affected locations in the Visayas region of the Philippines. This is a mixed-method project combining qualitative interviews, participant observation and online ethnography both with affected populations and representatives from humanitarian organisations, government agencies and digital practitioners.

Networked Migration:

I continue to write on the convergence of migrant networks and networked technologies drawing on comparative research with Filipino migrants in the US and the UK. Themes explored include: citizenship and visibility, fundraising and social capital. The research also explores the cumulative effects of communication technologies on the phenomenon of migration as a whole. 

Polymedia, separation and ambient co-presence:

Drawing on long term (over eight years) ethnographic research with migrants who face prolonged separation from their families, I develop publications on the nature of mediated environments and forms of co-presence in situations of physical absence and mobility. The extreme case of prolonged separation that some migrants face can offer insights into the more ordinary workings of mediation and mediated interpersonal relationships.

Recently completed projects:

Migration and New Media: transnational families and polymedia

I have recently completed an ESRC-funded study on Migration, ICTs and the transformation of transnational family life (2007-2011). This research investigates how parents and children who are separated because of migration care for each other using new media such as mobile phones, email, instant messaging, social networking sites and webcam. This was a three-year ethnographic project, in collaboration with Daniel Miller (UCL), in which we worked with Filipino and Caribbean people living in London and Cambridge as well as their left-behind families in the Philippines and Trinidad. Our book ‘Migration and New Media: transnational families and polymedia’ was published by Routledge in November 2011. For other journal articles from this research please see under ‘Publications’. You can read some reviews of ‘Migration and New Media’ here:

Media, Nationalism and Transnational Identities: the boundary-making role of the news media.

My first book, Mediating the Nation (2005) put forward a new approach for the study of media and nationalism focusing on citizens’ experience of the political entity of the nation through television news. Drawing on a two-year ethnography of television viewing in Greece, the book followed the range of public discourses about the nation found in the Greek news and compared them to the everyday discourses and practices about the nation both among Greeks and members of the Turkish minority, a beached diaspora. The book develops an argument about the mediation of symbolic boundaries for inclusion and exclusion from public life.

Emotional and moral consequences of mediation

The above work launched a strand in my research that examines the boundary-making role of media and the nature of mediation. I continue to write on these topics most recently addressing the emotional and ethical implications of digital mediation drawing on examples such as the Leveson inquiry and the viral Kony 2012 campaign. I’m the co-editor of the book Ethics of Media (2013, with N. Couldry and A. Pinchevski).

Publications and research outputs


Madianou, Mirca and Miller, Daniel. 2011. Migration and New Media: Transnational Families and Polymedia. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-67928-2

Madianou, Mirca. 2005. Mediating the Nation: News, audiences and the politics of identity. London: UCL Press / Routledge. ISBN 978-1844720286

Edited Book

Couldry, Nick; Madianou, Mirca and Pinchevski, Amit, eds. 2013. Ethics of Media. London: Palgrave. ISBN 9780230347632

Book Section

Madianou, Mirca. 2022. Technological Futures as Colonial Debris: ‘Tech-for-Good’ as Technocolonialism. In: Joanna Zylinska, ed. The Future of Media. London: Goldsmiths Press, pp. 281-294. ISBN 9781913380144

Madianou, Mirca. 2021. Technocolonialism. In: Lilie Chouliaraki and Anne Vestergaard, eds. Routledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 185-202. ISBN 9781138230576

Madianou, Mirca. 2020. Polymedia and Mobile Communication. In: Richard Ling; Leopoldina Fortunati; Gerard Goggin; Lim Sun Sun and Li Yuling, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Communication and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 68-81. ISBN 9780190864385

Madianou, Mirca. 2019. Migration, Transnational Families, and New Communication Technologies. In: Jessica Retis and Roza Tsagarousianou, eds. The Handbook of Diasporas, Media, and Culture. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 577-590. ISBN 9781119236702

Madianou, Mirca. 2018. Family Life in Polymedia. In: Zizi Papacharissi, ed. A Networked Self and Birth, Life, Death. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 89-103. ISBN 9781351784115

Madianou, Mirca. 2017. Doing Family at a Distance: Transnational Family Practices in Polymedia Environments. In: L Hjorth; H Horst; G Bell and A Galloway, eds. Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography. London: Routledge, pp. 102-112. ISBN 9781138940918

Madianou, Mirca. 2016. Polymedia Communication Among Transnational Families: What Are the Long-Term Consequences for Migration? In: M Kilkey and E Palenga-Möllenbeck, eds. Family Life in an Age of Migration and Mobility. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 71-93. ISBN 978-1-137-52097-5

Madianou, Mirca. 2014. Polymedia communication and mediatized migration: an ethnographic approach. In: Knut Lundby, ed. Mediatization of Communication. Berlin: DE GRUYTER, pp. 323-348.

Madianou, Mirca. 2013. Ethics of Mediation and the Voice of the Injured Subject. In: , ed. Ethics of Media. London: Palgrave, pp. 178-197. ISBN 9780230347632

Madianou, Mirca; Couldry, Nick and Pinchevski, Amit. 2013. Ethics of Media: an introduction. In: Nick Couldry; Mirca Madianou and Amit Pinchevski, eds. Ethics of Media. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-20. ISBN 978-0230347830

Madianou, Mirca. 2013. Beyond the presumption of identity? Ethnicities, Cultures and Transnational Audiences. In: Virginia Nightingale, ed. The Handbook of Media Audiences. Malden MA: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 444-458. ISBN 978-1118721391

Madianou, Mirca. 2013. Living with News: Ethnography and news consumption. In: Stuart Allan, ed. The Routledge Companion to News and Journalism Studies. London: Routledge, pp. 428-438. ISBN 978-0415669535

Madianou, Mirca. 2008. Audience reception and news in everyday life. In: Karin Wahl-Jorgensenn and Thomas Hanitzsch, eds. The Handbook of Journalism Studies. New York: Routledge, pp. 325-357. ISBN 978-0805863437

Madianou, Mirca. 2007. Shifting identities: banal nationalism and cultural intimacy in Greek television news and everyday life. In: Richard Mole, ed. Discursive Constructions of Identity in European Politics. London: Palgrave Schol, pp. 95-118. ISBN 978-0230517066

Madianou, Mirca. 2006. ICTs transnational networks and everyday life. In: M. R. Cifarelli S Bodo, ed. Quando la cultura fa la differenza. Patrimonio, arti e media nella società multiculturale. Rome: Meltemi, pp. 189-199. ISBN 978-8883534867

Madianou, Mirca. 2005. The elusive public of television news. In: Sonia Livingstone, ed. Audiences and Publics: v.2: Changing Media: Vol 2. Bristol: Intellect, pp. 99-114. ISBN 978-1841501291


Madianou, Mirca. 2021. Polymedia Life. Pragmatics and Society, 12(5), pp. 859-866. ISSN 1878-9714

Madianou, Mirca. 2021. Nonhuman humanitarianism: when ‘AI for good’ can be harmful. Information, Communication and Society, 24(6), pp. 850-868. ISSN 1369-118X

Madianou, Mirca. 2020. A second-order disaster? Digital technologies during the Covid-19 pandemic. Social Media + Society, 6(3), ISSN 2056-3051

Madianou, Mirca. 2019. The Biometric Assemblage: Surveillance, Experimentation, Profit, and the Measuring of Refugee Bodies. Television & New Media, 20(6), pp. 581-599. ISSN 1527-4764

Madianou, Mirca. 2019. Technocolonialism: digital innovation and data practices in the humanitarian response to refugee crises. Social Media and Society, 5(3), pp. 1-13. ISSN 2056-3051

Madianou, Mirca; Ong, Jonathan Corpus; Longboan, Liezel and Cornelio, Jayeel S.. 2016. The appearance of accountability: communication technologies and power asymmetries in humanitarian aid and disaster recovery. Journal of Communication, 66(6), pp. 960-981. ISSN 0021-9916

Madianou, Mirca. 2016. Ambient co‐presence: transnational family practices in polymedia environments. Global Networks, 16(2), pp. 183-201. ISSN 1470-2266

Madianou, Mirca; Longboan, Liezel and Ong, Jonathan. 2015. Finding a Voice Through Humanitarian Technologies? Communication Technologies and Participation in Disaster Recovery. International Journal of Communication, 9, pp. 3020-3038. ISSN 1932–8036

Madianou, Mirca. 2015. Digital Inequality and Second-Order Disasters: Social Media in the Typhoon Haiyan Recovery. Social Media + Society, 1(2), pp. 1-11. ISSN 2056-3051

Madianou, Mirca. 2015. Polymedia and Ethnography: Understanding the Social in Social Media. Social Media + Society, 1(1), pp. 1-3. ISSN 2056-3051

Madianou, Mirca. 2014. Smartphones as Polymedia. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(3), pp. 667-680. ISSN 1083-6101

Madianou, Mirca and Miller, Daniel. 2013. Polymedia: Towards a new theory of digital media in interpersonal communication. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 16(2), pp. 169-187. ISSN 1367-8779

Madianou, Mirca. 2013. Humanitarian Campaigns in Social Media: Network Architectures and Polymedia Events. Journalism Studies, 14(2), pp. 249-266. ISSN 1461-670X

Madianou, Mirca. 2012. Migration and the accentuated ambivalence of motherhood: the role of ICTs in Filipino transnational families. Global Networks, 12(3), pp. 277-295. ISSN 1470-2266

Madianou, Mirca. 2012. News as a looking glass: shame and the symbolic power of mediation. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(1), pp. 3-16. ISSN 1367-8779

Madianou, Mirca. 2012. Should you accept a friend’s request from your mother? And other Filipino dilemmas. International Review of Social Research, 2(1), pp. 8-27. ISSN 2069-8267

Madianou, Mirca and Miller, Daniel. 2011. Mobile phone parenting: Reconfiguring relationships between Filipina migrant mothers and their left-behind children. New Media & Society, 13(3), pp. 457-470. ISSN 1461-4448

Madianou, Mirca and Miller, Daniel. 2011. Crafting Love: letters and cassette tapes in transnational Filipino family communication. South East Asian Research, 19(2), pp. 249-272.

Madianou, Mirca. 2005. Contested communicative spaces: identities, boundaries and the role of the media. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31(3), pp. 521-541. ISSN 1369-183X

Madianou, Mirca. 2005. Desperately seeking the news public. Journal of Media Practice, 6(1), pp. 29-39. ISSN 1468-2753


Madianou, Mirca. 2020. Reproducing colonial legacies: technocolonialism in humanitarian biometric practices. Technical Report. Goldsmiths, University of London.

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