Research

Over the past 5 years, Alencar has consistently worked in areas related to diversity and the multicultural society, specifically when it comes to the social responsibility of media contents in intercultural processes. In her Marie Sklodowska-Curie project Television News for Promoting Interculturalism. A Novel Step towards Immigrant Integration, Alencar analyzed the challenges of migrant integration in four countries and how news media serve as tools by which migrants and refugees negotiate their social, economic, and cultural conditions. Specifically, this research worked towards a comprehensive and an integrated approach to the understanding of the role of (TV) news media in the integration processes of new migrants in the Netherlands, Spain and Ireland, both at structural and sociocultural levels. In order to understand the factors mediating the relationship between news media and migrant integration, the project studied in depth (1) news coverage patterns for approaching social reality and visibility in television news broadcasts of the host countries; (2) the roles the news play in the integration experiences of immigrants; (3) the potential of an online platform of TV news educational contents specifically designed for this project- to enhance immigrants’ skills in their host country’s language and promote intercultural communication processes through the simulation of online learning experiences with different migrant groups in the countries participating in the project.

Simultaneously, Alencar also worked in collaboration with research projects conducted in different universities and research centers. These projects focused on several interrelated interrelated themes relevant to the filed of media and migration studies. A related focus has pertained to analyzing what messages generate openness toward Western European norms among Muslim immigrants. Jointly with researchers at the University of Amsterdam (ASCoR) Alencar have been collaborating with a series of studies on integration and message effectiveness to test whether narrative versus numerical evidence is more effective among different subgroups of Muslim immigrants. On the other hand, she has also been involved in two (international) research projects on the role of cinema in promoting cultural diversity (together with researchers from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain) and the use of entertaining collaborative digital games to foster multicultural integration at Dutch schools (Utrecht University).

More recently, Alencar has started working on the project Digital Integration and Forced Migrations focusing on different countries in both developed and developed regions. This research explores more collective processes and the power dynamics involved in the appropriation of digital technologies in the context of forced migration within and beyond the west. This research aims to understand how the diversity of refugee experiences of technology is linked to the mechanisms that underpin digital governance of refugee integration, in particular the development and application of digital technologies by state and non-state actors to support, control and manage refugee populations. Part of this research endeavour also includes mapping and assessing digital networks put in place for, by and with refugees, and their implications for refugee settlement processes. The proposed research will lead to the development of new theoretical models for studying the intersections of technologies and refugee settlement and that are better aligned to technology appropriation processes shaping contemporary governance of migration as well as refugees’ experiences and networks of refuge. Alencar is currently writing a book proposal based on this research, which has already attracted the interest of publishers like Palgrave and Lexington Books.