Based on fieldwork with migrants and border populations in Central America and the story of a young Congolese woman in particular, this article discusses how research participants’ use of mobile communication technology provokes a redefinition of the ethnographic field. Increasingly popular trajectory research often sets out to follow migrants, yet a focus on migrants keeping in touch with researchers at their own initiative and discretion, following them, reveals entanglements of selective on- and offline engagement and self-representation. Critical exploration of research participants’ differentiated use of digital technology for navigating a social environment that includes the researcher herself not only transforms our understanding of the field in empirical, ethical, and methodological terms, but also counteracts potentially voyeuristic and life-threatening practices of following people on the move

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Social Analysis
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)