Accepted paper:

Imaginaries of sovereignty: visualizing the state of emergency

Authors:

Alexandra Schwell (AAU Klagenfurt)

Paper short abstract:

Narratives of control and sovereignty are closely linked to the performativity of the nation state as a "home". The paper seeks to elaborate on the relation of images and imaginaries and emotional practices of "doing home" in media and political discourse on refugees in Germany and Austria.

Paper long abstract:

"The night that Germany lost control". This headline of the German weekly "Die Zeit" was published in fall 2016 on the occasion of the anniversary of the 2015 border opening, when German chancellor Angela Merkel had decided to allow Syrian and other refugees into the country. Also in fall 2016, in light of the so-called refugee crisis the Austrian government drafted an emergency decree that would allow for extreme measures and entail the suspension of asylum-seekers' legal rights and basic freedoms in order to restore safety and security. Both examples, the media narrative and populist politics, instrumentalize images, metaphors, and visual imaginaries related to imaginations of control and sovereignty. Both suggest that the border opening led to an uncontrolled influx of not classified/classifiable and potentially bad people. In effect, they argue, the state cannot fulfil its security promise and thus cannot be considered sovereign anymore. The paper seeks to elaborate on the relation of images and imaginaries and emotional practices of "doing home" in media and political discourse on refugees in Germany and Austria. Narratives of control and sovereignty are closely linked to the performativity of the nation state as a "home" and a trusted "safe haven". Right-wing populist images and imaginaries on refugees particularly draw upon the notion of fear. Also, their emphasis on an alleged "state of exception" informs individual actors' fears as emotional practices, leaving a lasting impression that potentially undermines democratic conceptions of the state and the society.

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Images and the imaginary of Home: analysing pictures and visual culture in times of securitization and domopolitics