The Terrorism-Migration Nexus: A Comparative Analysis of Media Discourse in Two European Countries.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Maria Grazia GALANTINO, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
The recurrence of terrorist attacks in European countries together with the surge of mass migration and the associated increase of refugee numbers have ignited a debate over causal links between the two phenomena. The assumed nexus between terrorism and migration is part of a wider discourse portraying international migration as a risk for hosting societies in multiple social domains – health, work, welfare, public order. At the same time, it is worthy of particular attention as it changes the meaning of migration from a risk to a serious threat to national security.

This paper examines how a link between terrorism and migration is constructed through media discourse by analysing the content of major newspapers in Italy (2011-16) and Germany (2015-16). Our analysis reveals not only how and when discourse on terrorist threats conflates with migration discourse, but also how media are particularly concerned with one direction of the assumed causality: migrants as potential terrorists or susceptible of radicalisation. Our results also show the performative power of language in mobilizing resources, institutions and people against the perceived threat. Ultimately, migration control - if not rejection – are the most discussed courses of action for countering terrorism, while discourses and measures on community or individual resilience do not seem to gain media attention and rise a broad public debate.