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date: 14 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the phenomenon of crisis migration through focusing on the power of its visualization. It is argued that recent events labeled “migration crises” ought to be understood as crises of democratic politics rather than being existential threats alluded to by the crisis narratives, they instead reflect communication and language used by political leaders and parts of the global media in relation to the flow of refugees and irregular migrants. This claim is explored through the case of asylum-seeker arrivals in Australia and their treatment in offshore detention as a “crisis” response. Australia is an important case study to explore as a “settler” society that has benefited from large waves of immigration, particularly from the 1950s onward, including significant numbers of people from a refugee background. Focusing on the punitive arrangements and conditions for asylum-seekers sent to Nauru and Manus Island, the case study points to the important role of affect in building sentiment and public opinion on outsiders and marginalized people. Visual and material cultural markers and artifacts are examples of the deployment of affect, utilized by those empathetic to the circumstances of asylum-seekers and also by those wishing to demonize them, notably states.

Keywords: Crisis migration, refugees, asylum-seekers, visual culture, Australia, offshore detention, Manus Island, Nauru

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