Migration Research Network Seminar: Constesting ‘refugeeness’: Exploring the paradoxes between discourses of hospitality and refugee (self)representation in New Zealand
September 13 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Discourses of hospitality – the welcoming of refugees – are largely driven by humanitarian concern and a sense of moral duty towards refugees. However, they also risk encouraging a regime of compassion and charity that may speak more about ourselves as humanitarian actors than the very people we purport to help. Refugees are thus framed as objects of ‘our’ humanitarian concern and moral responsibility, stereotyped as helpless vulnerable victims without agency who are reliant on others to speak on their behalf. These discourses consequently produce a generic type of refugee – an imagining of ‘refugeeness’ – that consigns individuals to an anonymous presence, stripping them of their history and humanity, and rendering them ‘speechless’. Therefore, there is a need for more stories told from the perspective of those seeking refuge, rather than from the perspective of humanitarian agencies or civil society movements. Personal narratives give voice to the individual experiences of displacement and resettlement, and help host societies to understand the complexities of what it means to be a refugee. Drawing on media analysis from New Zealand’s response to the current refugee crisis and interviews with former refugees in New Zealand, this presentation reflects on the relationship between discourses of hospitality and the politics of representation, and the various ways people from refugee background contest and create spaces for the construction of their own identity.
Natalie Slade, a PhD candidate at Massey University, has recently returned from Thessaloniki Greece where she presented the above paper at the IASFM Annual Conference 2018: Wither Refugees? Restrictionism, Crises and Precarity Writ Large.
Everyone is welcome to join the conversation. You can join in person at one of the University video conferencing rooms or via Zoom, using link https://otago.zoom.us/my/esocsci Meeting ID: 321 000 1234.
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