Accepted Paper:

Refugees- Whose crisis? Moving beyond 'pity and fear' to a dialectical media practice.  


Susan Clayton (Goldsmiths University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Discourses around the 'refugee crisis' have presented as fear of the alien other, or liberal pity for passive 'victims'. I present my collaborative film practice (Hamedullah The Road Home; Calais Children: A Case to Answer) as a new perspective supporting solidarity and resistance.

Paper long abstract:

Media representations of the European "refugee crisis" of 2015-17 demonstrate disturbing patterns in the representation of refugees. Surveys demonstrate how UK coverage focuses on racist notions of the malevolent "other" with politicians harnessing terms like "swarm" and "invasion" in emotive Brexit debates. The counter-discourse, particularly since the viralled image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi in September 2015, has conformed to its inverse - the isolated victim without agency. 

I present my collaborative film practice (Hamedullah The Road Home and Calais Children: A Case to Answer) as a new perspective and discourse on solidarity and resistance.  I describe auto-ethnographic techniques- video diaries, testimonies, self-filming - that I have used with unaccompanied refugee minors.

I explore issues of identity and representation to introduce more complex and self-reflexive tropes. I consider:

1) Their developing identities and agency; their perception of their own histories and journeys; how their networks operate to determine the choices they make; how they regard the conditions that have led them to such precarious journeys, and the actors they encounter. I reference Martin-Baro, Liberation Psychology and my video diary work with therapy teams at the Tavistock and Portman Hospital,

2) The relationship between the refugee children and us, their de facto 'hosts', calling into consideration the transactional nature of the filmic process. I argue that the material conditions of the 'Jungle' and other camps produced unique forms of organisation where conventional 'we/them' binaries and boundaries became blurred, and new discourses of solidarity and resistance were able to be articulated.

Panel P094
Creative Art/Anthropology Praxis as Revelation and Resistance