Spectacular Images of the ‘Refugee Crisis’


Memou, A. 2018. Spectacular Images of the ‘Refugee Crisis’. Photographies. 12 (1), pp. 81-97.
AuthorsMemou, A.

The current ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe has generated an abundance of photographs, which have been circulated in print and digital media since 2015. This article focuses on two of the most reproduced of these photographs: that taken in September 2015 of Aylan Kurdi’s dead body near the Turkish coast and a photograph of refugees walking along the Croatian-Slovenian border which was used by the UK Independence Party (UKIP) during the summer of 2016 as part of their pro-Brexit campaign. The article examines the repeated visual tropes which perpetuate stereotypes of refugees as either miserable, helpless victims or threatening subjects. It further questions the ways in which the ‘individual’ and the ‘collective’ have been framed in these photographs, in ways which contribute to dominant and uncontested visual narratives of the ‘refugee crisis.’ The paper contends that the passive acceptance of these reified representations of the refugee experience in these media-saturated times equates to uncritical approval of the sociopolitical conditions from which these photographs are generated. Finally, it argues that only through the rejection of such spectacular images can we hope to open up a serious, critical, public debate about the ‘refugee crisis’, the necessity of which is becoming increasingly urgent.

Journal citation12 (1), pp. 81-97
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscript
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/17540763.2018.1501728
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1080/17540763.2018.1501728
Publication dates
Print24 Dec 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited10 Jan 2018
Accepted19 Dec 2017
Accepted19 Dec 2017
Copyright informationThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Photographies on 24/12/2018, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17540763.2018.1501728.
LicenseAll rights reserved (under embargo)
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Accepted author manuscript

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