Unlike the other case studies, Portugal is neither the main destination for refugees and new migrants, nor a target of terrorist attacks. Its peripheral status in terms of the securitization processes that surrounded migration within the EU over the past decade however does not mean that it has been immune to said processes.
The country’s connection to key arenas in securitization processes (ie EU and NATO), the position of Portuguese media, which are in constant dialogue with European polítical and media actors, that often reproduce European media and political agendas, and the fact that it was one of the European economies more severely hit by the financial crisis have contributed to the presence of migration and asylum securitization scripts in national media and political debates.
This central case study aims to examine the ways in which national debates and policy approach and translate pivotal events namely the so-called “refugee crisis of 2015/6” and how they recycle securitization discurses around immigrants, asylum seekers/refugees and “internal others”, as well as reinvent them in light of national media and political agendas. Specifically gendered and racialized tropes in media hegemonic and counterhegemonic narratives will also be analyzed.
The sexual assaults reported during the 2015 New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other German cities prompted heated debates in Germany about migration, asylum, multiculturalism, Islam, feminism, the ethics of media reporting, the securitization of public spaces, and the criminal law relating to sexual offences.
Since then, a rise in immigrant assault was also registered along with a declining social support to asylum law. endurecimento das atitudes sociais perante a lei de asilo. Some sexual crimes perpetrated afterwards by refugees reactivated and reinforced narratives already widely disseminated on Muslim men as particularly dangerous sexually and examples of degenerate and archaic masculinities. The media have decisively contributed to the racialization of sexual violence and to the Islamophobic and xenophobic undertones of moral panic surrounding said events.
France & United Kingdom
Both countries have a long exposure to the risk of terrorism and with experience in the area of counterterrorism. In France, the 2015 Paris attacks were perceived as a landmark in the country’s attitudes towards national security. The moral panic generated by these events also derived from the perpetrators’ profile: most of those involved were French and Belgian citizens, which contributed to the countries’s rising awareness of the risk of internal terrorism.
Italy: Lampedusa and the Mediterranean
As semiotic spaces/polysemic borders, Lampedusa and the Mediterranean represent the hyper-real (or dysfunctional) workings of border control. As a site of biometric and (re)definition of the European ‘imagined community’ (Anderson), Lampedusa and the Mediterranean are the confluence of a set of colour/border lines with ancient and more recent origins: the North-South divide (continental Europe vs. Mediterranean Europe), the South-South divide (Mediterranean Europe vs. Mediterranean Africa), the South-East (Mediterranean Europe vs. the Middle East) – constructed from a set of discourses that refer to multiple “colonial archives” (Ann Laura Stoler) / “national archives” (Gloria Wekker) and are racialized, gendered and sexualised.
This case study aims to analyse the media representations of overlapping local, national and international colour lines and European borders and their interaction in the construction of a system of definitions – which fixes the meaning of “life” (Judith Butler) – and distinctions – between lives that are “disposable/dispensable” and those that “should be protected” (Talal Asad and Achille Mbembe) – within the framework of what Talal Asad has called “small colonial wars”. By local, national and international colour lines, we mean the cultural, social and geographical axes to which a particular colour (racialized identities) is assigned by European agencies involved in the control and management of transnational migration. By European borders, we mean those ‘unstable fictional borders’ established by European governments with a view to maintaining Europe within a self-image that identifies Europe and the European Union as the landmarks of civilisation, whiteness and justice in the North; in turn, this same ‘constructed’ border produces the reasons for the moral panic allegedly engendered by those who violate the border that delimits the space of the European ‘imagined’ (and racialized) community. This reflection interconnects ‘texts’ and ‘contexts’, regardless of whether the texts are those articulating discourses of ‘national security’ and ‘risk management’ measures, or cultural materials forging the imaginary of threat, monstrosity and moral catastrophe.