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"Mediations of ‘the Refugee Crisis’: The (Ir)reconciliation of Ideological Contradictions in Fortress Europe"

Alexander Callum Harrison

Networking Knowledge, 9 (4), 2016

In the UK, the summer of 2015 saw the national popular press and public imagination captivated by the ‘refugee crisis’. On both mass and social media sites, public opinion predominantly orientated around two major narratives. On one hand, amidst the dramatic scenes in Calais (as well as elsewhere), the European media worked into a fervour of fear, amid concerns about the ‘swarms’ of migrants purported to be ‘invading’ Europe (Squires 2015, The Telegraph). Taking a theoretical focus through Agamben’s work and giving reverence to where his concerns converge with aspects of postcolonial theory, the following investigation unpacks how the hegemonic (new) media narratives have intensely cycled into an emotionally charged dichotomous discourse obfuscating a multitude of other key considerations. Employing content analysis, this article reads three cultural texts scraped from social media to discuss the ways in which the construction of the refugee identity has been shaped in the public imagination; it calls into question how forefronting the figure of the refugee has foreclosed wider debates about alternative agendas contributing to the processes of Fortressing Europe.

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