The Politics of Migration Data Visualization

Data visualization, or the process of communicating quantitative information to enhance understanding, is an indispensable tool for journalists and policymakers. Yet resurgent interest in story-telling with data, as well as received wisdom about these outputs’ power to change attitudes, raises deeply political questions about their forms, functions, and consequences. Drawing on my research examining visualizations about migration and refugee issues—comprising qualitative semiotic analysis, content analysis, and survey experiments—I argue that visualization is a key feature of wider digital migration politics that carries significance both on- and off-line.