REPRESENT

The representation of refugees, through visual framing and language, plays a crucial role in shaping the way they are perceived and systematically handled. The discourse, or system of representation, around refugees is shaped by the the concept of ‘othering’. By creating a binary opposition model of ‘us’ and ‘them’, othering creates a disconnect with the real life experiences of refugees. The concept of othering stems from colonialism and eurocentrism, working as a categorisation system that divides the world into a dichotomy of ‘the west’ and ‘the rest’. By oversimplifying the concept of ‘difference’ and reducing diverse societies into collective others, ‘the rest’ are effectively dehumanised and considered inferior to the West.

Visual framing of refugees is significant because it creates perceptions of refugees and informs our ideas about them.

Images shape what can and cannot be seen and, indirectly, what can and cannot be thought.

(Bleiker R, Campbell D, Hutchison, E & Nicholson, X. 2013)

This process of dehumanisation removes the representation of refugees as individuals seeking humanitarian assistance and frames them as a mass threat to our sovereignty and security. As shown in ‘Represent’, the persistence of images of refugees in large groups on boats or behind wires continues the rhetoric of them as a collective other, as the images remove any sign of an identifiable victim. Othering is directly linked to the idea Western critics have that refugees with smartphones aren’t in need of help and therefore cannot be granted refugee status. Seeing refugees with modern day technology that westerners also use forces critics to no longer view them as “relics of a cultural past that helps separate them from us”. This representation of refugees challenges the view of refugees as a separate other, hence the confusion and criticism that has arisen from these images.

The image of Aylan Kurdi and the emotional response it garnered temporarily ‘humanised’ the plight of refugees and also challenged the conception of a separate other. This images caused a ‘reframe’ of the refugee crisis, whereby people in the West were able to connect with the humanity of death and form a “common in-group identity” (Jones J, 2015). The formation of this common identity that “we are all human”, leads to a desire to help these people who are now part of an in-group. The supportive response that followed this image lead to pressure for “a compassionate response, and the government’s subsequent decision to accept 12,000 Syrian refugees” (McLouglin L, 2016).

The language and visual framing of refugees informs the systematic treatment they receive, and vice versa. Dehumanising images teamed with terms like ‘economic migrants’, ‘illegals’ and ‘boat people’, creates a climate of moral disengagement and perpetuates the rhetoric of asylum seekers as a threat. Moral disengagement involves the disabling of moral codes to make immoral behaviour justified.

diagram2

This moral disengagement has been constructed by the Australian Government to justify actions against refugees that the UN has declared are in direct violation of human rights.

The discourse of visual framing and language inform the climate of tolerance and intolerance towards refugees. Humanisation and individual stories of refugees are crucial to represent refugees as humans seeking asylum and not a separate other and a collective threat.

References:

Bleiker R., Campbell D., Hutchison., E & Nicholson., X. 2013. The visual dehumanisation of refugees, Australian Journal of Political Science, vol 38, No. 4, pp 398-416, available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10361146.2013.840769

Gabriel Y. 2012. The Other and Othering: A short Introduction, available at http://www.yiannisgabriel.com/2012/09/the-other-and-othering-short.html

Godfrey B & Sammut C 2015. The Migration Crisis: No Human is Illegal, The Round Table, available at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Baldacchino_Godfrey/publication/283815977_The_Migration_Crisis_No_Human_is_Illegal/links/566d8fac08ae1a797e403908.pdf

Jensen S.Q. 2011. Othering, identity formation and agency. Qualitative studies, 2(2), pp.63-78, available at http://ojs.statsbiblioteket.dk/index.php/qual/article/view/5510

Hall S, & Gieben B (eds.). 1992. The West and the rest: discourse and power, in Formations of Modernity, Polity Press, Cambridge, pp 276-280

McLoughlin L. 2016. No Shame: The Science Behind Why Most Australians Feel Okay About Tormenting Asylum Seekers, Junkee, available at http://junkee.com/no-shame-why-most-australians-feel-okay-about-tormenting-asylum-seekers/72827

Medhora S. 2015. Australian senator Cory Bernardi criticises Aylan Kurdi’s father for fleeing Turkey, The Guardian, available at http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/sep/08/australian-senator-cory-bernardi-blames-aylan-kurdis-father-for-childs-drowning

Ramgobin R. 2015. Dr Janelle Jones on The image of Aylan Kurdi has made ‘everyone become human’, Independent, available at  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/the-image-of-aylan-kurdi-has-made-everyone-become-human-10487030.html

Smith H. 2015. Shocking images of drowned Syrian boy show tragic plight of refugees, The Guardian, available at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/02/shocking-image-of-drowned-syrian-boy-shows-tragic-plight-of-refugees

Williams A. 2015. Stop shaming Syrian refugees for using cellphones, The Daily Dot, available at: http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/syria-refugees-cell-phone-use/

Soundtrack:

Rafi:ki. 2015. rafi:ki / mixtape 015 / instrumental hiphop / trip-hop, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0), Soundcloud, available at https://soundcloud.com/rafi-ki/rafiki-mixtape-015-instrumental-hiphop-triphop

Footage in order of appearance:

The Next Gag. 2015. I Came By Boat, Youtube, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mwPGUscQ_g

Ramgobin R. 2015. Dr Janelle Jones on The image of Aylan Kurdi has made ‘everyone become human’, Independent, available at  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/the-image-of-aylan-kurdi-has-made-everyone-become-human-10487030.html

Images in order of appearance:

Ggia – Vlastní dílo. 2015. Refugees coming across the Aegean Sea to the Greek island of Lesbos , in the background is Turkey, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4530328

AP. 2015. Refugees go on hunger strike in Australian Detention Centre, Al Jazeera, available at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/01/australia-refugees-hunger-strike-freedom-201511913946879762.html

New America. 2015. Policy Responses to the Refugee Crisis, CC BY, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An-sbY_0w2k

[unknown]. 2011. Image of US and THEM, Bilgrimage, available at http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/good-catholic-institutions-pro-gay.html

Freedom House. 2015. Syrian Refugees: Migrants clamber onto a train at Gevgelija train station in Macedonia, close to the border with Greece July 30, 2015, Public Domain, Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/21076290500

Getty Images, Police stand infront of a mass group of refugees, BBC News, available at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35130213

Euractiv.com with agencies. 2016. A registration sign at a hotspot. [Frontex], Euractiv, available at http://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/greece-will-process-asylum-claims-in-two-weeks-including-the-appeal/

Affect Lab. 2015. Migration & Mobiles, Affect Lab.org, available at https://affectlab.org/2015/09/18/migration-selfies/

Wylie A. 2013. Tent homes on Nauru., The Sydney Morning Herald, available at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/detention-centres-inhumane-un-20131126-2y8hk.html

Freedom House. 2015. GRAPHIC CONTENT: A Turkish police officer stands next to a migrant child’s dead body off the shores in Bodrum, southern Turkey, on September 2, 2015 after a boat carrying refugees sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos, Public Domain Mark 1.0, Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/21076307990  

Freedom House. 2015. Aylan Kurdi’s Body: A Turkish police officer carries a migrant child’s dead body off the shores in Bodrum, southern Turkey, on Sept. 2 after a boat carrying refugees sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos. (AFP/Getty Images), Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/21076380100

CAFOD Photo Library. 2015. Refugee crisis in Europe: As the biggest refugee crisis in recent times grips Europe, CAFOD and our supporters are calling on the Prime Minister to do more to support vulnerable Syrian refugees resettling in the UK as quickly as possible., Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafodphotolibrary/22092760064

DFID. 2014. Iraqi refugee girl with her family at Newroz camp where they are being helped by the International Rescue Committee, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0), Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfid/14924850775

Freedom House. 2015. A Syrian refugee from Deir Ezzor, holding his son and daughter, breaks out in tears of joy after arriving via a flimsy inflatable boat crammed with about 15 men, women and children on the shore of the island of Kos in Greece, Aug. 15. (Daniel Etter/The New York Times), Public Domain Mark 1.0, Flickr, available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/syriafreedom/20643335423

Simonarson G (@gissisim). 2015. [Screenshot] Gotten a lot of requests to help this man and his daughter. Anyone know people in Beirut able to locate him? #BuyPens, Twitter, available at: https://twitter.com/GissiSim/status/636277172118925313

By Noborder Network (no borders no precarity  Uploaded by PanchoS) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:No_borders,_no_precarity_-_Shut_Down_FRONTEX_Warsaw_2008.jpg

[unknown]. 2015. EU law requires asylum seekers to have their fingerprints registered on a central database, The Independent, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-four-ways-european-countries-treat-asylum-seekers-like-convicted-criminals-10483185.html

Von Irish Defence Forces. 2015. Irish Navy rescues migrants within the Triton mission (June 2015), Wikimedia, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfmagazine/18898637736/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41045858

Wylie A. 2013. Tent homes on Nauru., The Sydney Morning Herald, available at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/detention-centres-inhumane-un-20131126-2y8hk.html

By Noborder Network [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons, available at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Migrant_hunting_EU_agency_-_Shut_Down_FRONTEX_Warsaw_2008.jpg

[unknown]. 2016. Secure National ID Cards, Gemalto, available at http://www.gemalto.com/govt/identity

[Screenshot] WIFI?CHARGING INITIATIVE AT KELETI, 11th September, Tumblr, available at http://keleti-connected.tumblr.com/post/128845049631

Syrova/AP O. 2015. Jonas Kakoschke (right) and Bakary Conan chat at Kakoschke’s flat in Berlin. Kakoschke gave shelter to Conan with his initiative Refugees Welcome, which has now placed 26 refugees in private homes, available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/01/berlin-group-behind-airbnb-for-refugees-overwhelmed-by-offers-of-help

[Screenshot] New Humans of Australia, Facebook, available at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1648203498752554&fref=ts

Simonarson G (@gissisim). 2015. “Finally found him =) Been a lot of work, but it was worth it! Now lets help them!”, Twitter, available at: https://twitter.com/search?q=Finally%20found%20him%20%3D)%20Been%20a%20lot%20of%20work%2C%20but%20it%20was%20worth%20it!%20Now%20lets%20help%20them!%20from%3Agissisim&src=typd&lang=en  

Archdox. 2015. Clouds Over Sidra (2015) by Chris Milk and Gabo Arora. Promotional Still., Archdox WordPress, available at: https://archdox.wordpress.com/tag/clouds-over-sidra/

Project Open Network. 2015. Project Open Network volunteer talking with refugees and migrants in Tovarnik, Croatia, on September 20th., abc NEWS, available at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/volunteers-bring-wi-fi-refugees-europe-backpacks/story?id=33953223

Free the Children NAURU. 2016. Rest in Peace, Omid, Facebook, available at https://www.facebook.com/839867502797443/photos/a.840306886086838.1073741828.839867502797443/942800289170830/?type=3&theater

Lima M. 2015. A group of Syrian refugees charged their cellphones using a television station’s satellite truck outside the Keleti train station in Budapest last week, The New York Times, available at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/reporters-notebook/migrants/phone-charging-stations

Muheisen M. 2015. Refugee holding phone with google maps and directions, Time, available at: http://time.com/4062120/see-how-smartphones-have-become-a-lifeline-for-refugees/

Marko Djurica/Reuters. 2015. Alvand, 18, from Syria takes a selfie with his friends as they walk along a railway track after crossing into Hungary from the border with Serbia last week., CBC, available at http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/for-syrian-refugees-smartphones-are-a-lifeline-not-a-toy-1.3221349

By DFID – UK Department for International Development [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Refugee_children_from_Syria_at_a_clinic_in_Ramtha,_northern_Jordan_(9613477263).jpg

Specia M. 2015. Smartphones line a makeshift shop in the Za’atari refugee camp on Sept. 19, 2015, Mashable, available at: http://mashable.com/2015/09/22/zaatari-refugee-camp-smartphones-whatsapp/#4uqZDzJQcEqp

Free the Children NAURU, Children holding up signs in protest, Facebook, available at https://www.facebook.com/Free-the-Children-NAURU-839867502797443/photos

Advertisements

About intersectionalalien

Hi hello people of earth/space/cyberspace, intersectional alien here. I’m still trying to figure out my place on this earth. I like intersectional feminism, feminism in popular culture, LGBTQ+, refugee rights, veganism, mental health, nihilism, travelling, unlearning institutional conditioning, good tunes and consuming and creating stories.
This entry was posted in Research Project: Refugees & Cyberculture. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s