This panel explores the diverse representations of the current movement of refugees into Europe. Through an examination of the politics of representations the panel explores the extent to which representations have the potential to create spaces of resistance and forge new forms of solidarity.
This panel explores the diverse public and popular representations of the current movement of refugees into Europe, the impact of these depictions and the potential for them to forge new kinds of global alliances and solidarity. Many dominant and mainstream depictions of refugees have reproduced negative discourses of migrants that have justified particular responses from European nations including the closure of borders and the creation of zones of exclusion as well as giving rise to xenophobic politics. Stereotypes have been created and embedded through familiar symbols, metaphors and narratives of illegality, aliens, waves, floods, invasions and swamping while geographic tropes and global imaginaries have together contributed to project a sense of crisis and instil fear amongst those who move and those in the places of arrival. Furthermore, they often conceal the historical and structural context of this current movement and the extent to which it is a response to wider global inequalities. Other representations have, however, demonstrated an outpouring of compassion among people all over Europe, with countless acts of kindness and voluntary engagement supporting refugees as they arrive in Europe following their traumatic and often dangerous journeys. Through an examination of the impact, power and politics of representations and a critique of whose narratives are privileged in the telling of the refugee story the panel explores the extent to which representations have the potential to create spaces of resistance and forge new forms of solidarity.