The Politics of Representation: Refugee Children in Digital Media

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:15
Oral Presentation
Eleni THEODOROU, European University Cyprus, Cyprus
Over the past few years, Europe has seen a significant rise in immigration as a result of protracted and violent conflicts in various places around the world. One of the conflicts that has featured prominently in European media is the Syrian conflict. Images of men, women, and children refugees from Syria reaching European shores in small, overcrowded and fragile boats drifting in tumultuous Mediterranean waters have been traveling around the world through, inter alia, digital media. The power of the media to produce, reproduce and represent ideas and ideologies about refugees and asylum seekers, often construing dehumanizing and stigmatizing representations of (mostly adult) refugees, has been documented in the literature (for example see Banks, 2012; Eses, Medianu, & Lawson, 2013, Bleiker, Campbell, Hutchison & Nicholson, 2013). This paper draws on a broader project of representations of the refugee child in 350 news articles on refugees which appeared in ten different Greek-Cypriot digital news media (digital newspapers and news sites) in the period May 2015-May 2016. Qualitative visual, content, and thematic analysis of both images and texts revealed the workings of three main technologies of representation (namely, otherization, collectivization and obscuration) which invisibilized and depersonified the refugee child. Building on this work to shift the focus on the politics of (digital) representation, this paper seeks to unravel how particular notions of race, class and gender operate in the digital and visual text to give way to how refugee children are rendered as classed, gendered and raced child-subjects.