ReURTV: Representation of Ukrainian refugees on Dutch television
Against the background of the recent academic discussions on media representations of refugees and migrants, this research project investigates the representation of Ukrainian refugees in Dutch news and current affairs programs.
About the project
Since the Russian invasion began, more than 3 million Ukrainians have fled their homes. The plight of Ukrainian refugees has led to a worldwide humanitarian response, fueled by media coverage that constantly highlights their likeness to Europe and the West. The current coverage of the war in Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees exposes the media’s double standards concerning different groups of refugees and the media’s shaping of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ refugees. Academic research on media representations of the 2015 refugee ‘crisis’ has shown that migrants were narrowly framed as either victims, without agency and voice, or as perpetrators, who were hostile and threatening to Europe, and that the coverage shifted between the theme of humanitarianism and securitization (e.g. Georgiou 2017, Chouliaraki and Stolic 2017). While the current coverage of Ukrainian refugees has similarities to what Georgiou has called “ecstatic humanitarianism”, the coverage seems to lack the securitization frame (Georgiou 2017). Rather than being depicted as threatening outsiders, Ukrainian refugees seem to be portrayed as blond and blue-eyed European citizens who share the same values as ‘us’. The war in Ukraine is framed as taking place ‘in the heart of Europe’ and therefore demanding a humanitarian response of solidarity and hospitality.
Against the background of the recent academic discussions on media representations of refugees and migrants, the research project investigates the representation of Ukrainian refugees in Dutch news and current affairs programs. Television news and current affairs programs are important information sources, and therefore shape public and political responses to the current plight of Ukrainian refugees. They are significant in foregrounding certain themes in their coverage of Ukrainian refugees and they are permeated with discourses of class, race, gender, and with imaginations of the Dutch nation and Europe. Besides, the visualizations of their items about Ukrainian refugees can impact the portrayal of refugees as dehumanized, victimized, threatening, or familiarized (Chouliaraki and Stolic 2017, Falk 2010, Bleiker 2013). So far no research has been done on media representations of Ukrainian refugees. And while most research on media representations of refugees focuses on print media, not a lot of research has been done on television coverage of refugees. The starting point of the research project is the hypothesis that the current coverage of Ukrainian refugees shifts away from the threat and securitization frame that was often used to cover the 2015 ‘refugee crisis’.
The proposed project uses the CLARIAH Media Suite functionalities for distant reading and close-reading of the representation of Ukrainian refugees on news and current affairs programs, available in the Sound and Vision Archive. The project starts from the hypothesis that the current coverage of Ukrainian refugees shifts away from the threat and securitization frame that was often used to cover the 2015 ‘refugee crisis’ (e.g. Georgiou 2017, Chouliaraki and Stolic 2017). Using Media Suite search, bookmarking, video annotation tools and Automatic Speech Recognition, the project will investigate the thematic patterns of television coverage, the discourses of race, class, gender, religion, the imaginations of the Dutch nation and Europe, and the visual repertoires of the coverage.
Lecturer, Utrecht University