Beyond Objectifying the Humane: Memory in Media and Political Genres

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the idea that humane representations of refugees can be a matter of objectification (abstraction, use of standard discourses, stereotypes, othering, commodification), but that this is also intertwined with de-objectifying moments. In order to illustrate this, two instances of cultural production that belong to different genres were chosen for in-depth study. Both engage with the so-called refugee crisis of 2015 in Europe. They are the BBC/KEO television documentary Exodus—Our Journey to Europe (2016) which recounts the journeys of a group of refugees and migrants to Europe at that time, and a series of parliamentary debates about the issue of Syrian refugees that took place in the British parliament between 2013 and 2017. The specific focus of analysis is on the documentary as a memory artefact recounting the historic 2015 times, and on references to the past in parliamentarians’ interventions in debates. It is argued that the parameters of the specific genres involved, the television documentary and the parliamentary debate, help explain the objectifying of representation, but that, because genres are never fixed and closed, they also allow moments of escape from generic characteristics and thus, in the cases examined, potential for de-objectifying the humane.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Representations of Forced Migration in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationBeyond Regime and Refuge
EditorsFiona Barclay, Beatrice Ivey
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783031478314
ISBN (Print)9783031478307
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2024

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Literature, Culture and Human Rights
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2524-8820
ISSN (Electronic)2524-8839


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