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Echoes of Empire: racism and historical amnesia in the British media coverage of migration

Połońska-Kimunguyi, Ewa (2022) Echoes of Empire: racism and historical amnesia in the British media coverage of migration. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 9 (1). ISSN 2662-9992

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Identification Number: 10.1057/s41599-021-01020-4


This paper looks at how the British media addressed the issue of migration in Europe between 2015 and 2018, four years when the topic was high on news and political agendas, due to the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ and the UK’s debate on Britain’s relationship with the European Union and free movement of people. Based on a sample of 400 articles from two national newspapers, The Guardian and The Times, the paper compares the content and discourse between the left-wing and right-wing press. The paper argues that media representations turn refugees into ‘migrants’ and portray them as either a threat to the national economy and security or as passive victims of distant circumstances. The study historicizes these media narratives and reveals that the discourse they employ advances the racialised mix of knowledge and historical amnesia and reproduces the age-old hierarchies of the colonial system which divided humans into superior and inferior species. Migrant voice is largely missing from the coverage. History, that could explain the causes of ‘migration’, the distant conflicts and Britain’s role in them, is also nowhere to be found. The paper considers the exclusion of history and migrant voices from stories told to the British audience and reflects on their domestic and international implications.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2022 09:57
Last Modified: 24 May 2024 00:27

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