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CHICAM PROJECT BRIEF
CHILDREN IN COMMUNICATION ABOUT MIGRATION (CHICAM)

Funded by the European Commission (Framework 5 Programme)

CHICAM addresses three major aspects of structural change in
contemporary European society: the increase in global migration, the
uses of new communication technologies, and the specific needs of
children. It focuses on the social and cultural worlds of refugee and
migrant children in six European countries; and is mainly concerned
with first generation refugees or migrants, for whom the experience
of re-location is relatively recent. The project aims to explore and
develop the potential uses of media and communication technologies as
means of empowering these children and enabling them to realise their
potential.

CHICAM's main empirical focus involves studying groups of
migrant/refugee children, aged 10-14, who are using new
communications media in order to communicate with each other across
national boundaries. In each participating country, researchers will
collaborate with media artists and youth/community workers who are
working directly with such children. Using the internet, we will
establish a communications network to facilitate the sharing of
children's media productions, and generate ongoing dialogues between
them. We will investigate how these children represent and express
their experiences of migration into the different host countries, and
how their use of new media might enable their perspectives to inform
the development of European educational and cultural policies. In the
process, we will seek to identify how particular experiences of
reception, educational practice, family re-unification and community
involvement may more effectively promote social inclusion and
economic and cultural integration.

CHICAM is conceived as a form of 'action research'. It will generate
a range of original data that will provide new insights into the
experiences and perspectives of migrant and refugee children; and it
will also provide innovative, evidence-based models of educational
and cultural practice involving new media of communication.

CHICAM is a three-year project, which will run from November 2001 to
October 2004. A dedicated website will open around May 2002: this
will include digests of the project reports as they appear, as well
as samples of the children's media productions.

Aims:

1. To analyse how new media and communications technologies are
changing social relations within migrant communities, paying
particular attention to the position of children, and their relations
with the family, the peer group, the community and the school.
2. To identify how these technologies can be used to promote
inclusion, both social and institutional, by building bridges between
migrant/refugee children and members of the host societies.
3. By enabling such children to communicate with each other
across national boundaries, to identify the potential of these media
as means of intercultural communication, and to investigate how this
potential can be more effectively exploited by educational and
cultural organisations.
4. Through the use of these technologies, to raise the voice of
migrant and refugee children in decision-making at local, national
and European Community level in relation to policies that directly
affect their social and economic well-being.

THE CHICAM PARTNERSHIP:

• Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, Institute
of Education, University of London (co-ordinator)
• WAC Performing Arts and Media College, London
• Fondazione Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali (CENSIS), Rome
• Centre for Research in International Migration and Ethnic Relations (CEIFO) Stockholm University
• Department of Media Education/Media Centre, University of Ludwigsburg, Germany
• Forum Institute of Multicultural Development, Utrecht, The Netherlands
• Greek Council for Refugees, Athens

Children today spend more time watching television than they spend in
school. If we add to this the time they devote to films, magazines,
computer games and popular music, it is clear that the media
constitute by far their most significant leisure-time pursuit. Many
have argued that the media have now taken the place of the family and
the school as the major socialising influence in contemporary society.

Public debate on these issues needs to be informed by serious,
in-depth research; and it is vital that educators are able to use the
media in constructive and creative ways. We need to move beyond a
merely defensive approach, and to find new ways of empowering young
people, both as critical consumers of media and as producers in their
own right.

Contact:
Dr David Buckingham (d.buckingham@ioe.ac.uk)
Liesbeth de Block (l.deblock@ioe.ac.uk)