Violence as discourse in the emerging refugee crises

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The media is instrumental in how refugee discourses emerge and take hold. We can see this in the recent media coverage of Ukrainian refugees. There has been an outpouring of support and welcome towards the Ukrainian refugees that has been absent towards refugees from Africa and the Middle East seeking refuge in Western nations. Comments by news pundits remarking that Ukrainians differ from ‘typical refugees’ have made this difference even more apparent. Remarks like ‘They’re just like us’, and ‘they’re not used to this kind of conflict’ have betrayed the tacit understanding of who the ‘real refugees’ are. The real refugees are the ones who frequently find themselves in proximity to violence and geopolitical conflict because of settler colonial and imperial power relations. And often, these refugees are racialised and indigenous populations who bear the physical and emotional scars of long-term political discord and violence.

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