‘I have something to tell the world’: A comparative discourse analysis of representations of refugees and asylum seekers in print media and texts written by refugees and asylum seekers themselves, within the frames of creative writing workshops
Sammanfattning: This study compares print media representations of refugees and asylum seekers with representations in short stories and poems written by refugees and asylum seekers themselves, within the frames of creative writing workshops. The primary research question guiding the study reads: How do (self-)representations in texts written by refugees and asylum seekers, within the frames of creative writing workshops, differ from representations of refugees and asylum seekers in print media. As a theoretical foundation for the study serves the social constructionist assumption that language, rather than reflect, constructs reality, and that the way the world is understood affects policies, practices and actions – in this case concerning refugees, asylum seekers, refugee relief, refugee/asylum seeker reception systems, integration etc. Starting out from the notion that print media representations of refugees and asylum seekers follow certain recurring patterns – not only resulting in rather simplistic portrayals, but, also, almost systematically leaving out refugee and asylum seeker voices, views and opinions – the study, following Dorothy Smiths suggestion that individuals somehow excluded from a particular discourse may offer perspectives undermining it, turns to the refugees and asylum seekers’ own texts as a possible source of alternative representations. Using Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s discourse theory, complemented by semiotic analysis, (self-)representations in three anthologies with refugee and asylum seeker texts are compared to the results of a meta analysis of earlier research of representations of refugees and asylum seekers in print media. The findings of the study suggests that there are similarities, but also significant differences in how refugees and asylum seekers are represented in their own texts when compared to print media. Consequently, it is argued that there is a potential worth fostering in the creative writing workshops for refugees and asylum seekers, as well as similar initiatives. They may be seen as a step towards increasing refugees and asylum seekers’ opportunities to voice their opinion in matters that concern them; as answering to the post colonial call for bringing in new voices to the (social) development debate; and as contributing to the realisation of an agonistic democracy/pluralism.
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