Visual Depictions of Refugee Camps: (De)constructing Notions of Refugee-ness?

  • Caroline LenetteEmail author
Reference work entry


Visual representations of asylum seekers and refugees in precarious situations can have a significant impact on how such individuals are imagined in politically stable contexts, particularly in Western nations. Visual methodologies are relatively underused to examine how notions of refugee-ness are constructed and perpetuated to shape public opinion about asylum seekers and refugees. This topic is of particular relevance considering the intense media coverage of the recent and continuing Syrian refugee crisis in Europe during 2015–2016, and the abundance of images about this humanitarian catastrophe. Using refugee camps as example, I apply Kurasawa’s framework of “humanitarian sentimentalism” where he describes four typifications (or tropes) associated with images of humanitarian crises (Personification, Massification, Care, and Rescue) to visual depictions of refugee camps. This process of categorization of themes highlights what is emphasized for viewers in such imagery. As part of a broader reflective approach, I also discuss the themes of Feminization, Childhood, and Criminalization as key conventions in visual representations of asylum seekers and refugees. While there are ongoing tensions in relation to visual representations of people in precarious situations, visual methodologies can provide a rich dimension to critical discussions on complex and multifaceted issues.


Visual representations Asylum seekers Refugees Visual analysis Refugee camps 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Forced Migration Research Network, School of Social SciencesUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia

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