Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Wayne Koestenbaum

Committee Members

Mary Ann Caws

Siraj Ahmed

Steven Kruger

Sonali Perera

Subject Categories

Performance Studies | Translation Studies


Cold War, critical refugee studies, media studies, migration, transmedia, world literature


Through a discursive model I call a “migratory text”—migrant-produced media that includes notebooks, correspondences, self-portraiture, diaristic video, auto-archival installation, and immersive performance—Drift Net gleans connections between world literature, literary translation, academic scholarship, and public policy. Alongside close readings of texts from the interwar period through today and intimate archival fieldwork with refugees and shelter staff across Europe, this study mobilizes queer theory and gender and sexuality studies as well as performance studies and media theory to critique migrant-assimilation techniques by state actors and NGOs. In centering the Cold War throughout its five chapters, Drift Net broaches the different political maneuvers, geographies, and genealogies that inform a corpus spanning the plastic arts, performance, and literature, while revealing how today’s aesthetic strategies to compose content and identity across digital media are neither new nor exclusively digital, they’re migratory; migrant authors, this study shows, have forecasted and reshaped new media practices and norms. In my analysis of how the migratory text revises frameworks of translation and autobiography, I demonstrate the ways in which the queer refugee camp, and similar local migrant coalitions produced by community organizations, arts centers, and shelters have concretized the migratory text as a public project and, in so doing, advanced alternative forms of membership and community. In applying my theorization to media ecology and civic discourses, my project addresses an intervention in migration studies, which has historically been framed by the UN’s own policies and categories, and media studies, which has largely been grounded in a universalized Western narrative of media archaeology and practices.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Monday, June 01, 2026

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