The refugee crisis as a neo-orientalist discourse

Il était un petit navire: The ‘refugee crisis’, neo-orientalism and the production of radical alterity.

Dr. Elisabeth Kirtsoglou, Durham University & Prof. George Tsimouris, Panteion University – Athens

The paper discusses the refugee ‘crisis’ as a neo-orientalist discourse that produces images of radical alterity. It examines the artificial distinction between the category of ‘migrant’ and that of the ‘refugee’ and interrogates differential mobilities and asymmetrical conceptualisations of rights and forms of citizenship. We claim that precariousness is a technology of governance and that securitisation and the biopolitical management of mobility are sites where the neoliberal model of polis is being produced. Reducing migration to its management serves to divert attention from the effects of Fortress Europe and the geostrategic role of Europe and the US in the production of wars, violence and economic inequalities. We close by considering ways in which empathy as substitution can generate alternative visions of modernity, articulated as shared precariousness. We argue that the conceptualisation of precariousness as common predicament, serves to deconstruct the idea of radical alterity and can be hence viewed as a potential discourse of resistance.   

The full paper can be accessed online here

Occasional Papers, Journal of Modern Greek Studies, John Hopkins University Press.