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Migrants, refugees and othering: constructing europeanness. An exploration of Portuguese and German media

Migrantes, refugiados e outrização: construindo a europeidade. Uma exploração dos média portugueses e alemães
Rita Himmel e Maria Manuel Baptista
Tradução de Rita Himmel
p. 179-200
Este artigo é uma tradução do:
Migrantes, refugiados e outrização: construindo a europeidade. Uma exploração dos média portugueses e alemães [pt]

Resumos

O processo de instituição da União Europeia supranacional foi acompanhado por uma construção de uma ideia de europeidade (Geary, 2013; Pieterse, 1991/1993), de pertencer a um nós, criando uma ideia de quem somos, enquanto europeus, e, necessariamente, da outrização dos que não pertencem (Butler & Spivak, 2007; El-Tayeb, 2011). A chamada “crise dos refugiados/migratória” é um contexto particularmente interessante para explorar discursos não apenas sobre esta divisão entre nós e eles, em relação aos que são apresentados como não-europeus, mas também sobre a construção do que somos nós, europeus. Os média desempenham um papel crucial na reprodução de representações sobre os outros, com quem o público não tem contacto direto. Neste artigo, exploramos discursos, nos média portugueses e alemães, de 2011 a 2017, sobre a chamada “crise dos refugiados/migratória”. Através de uma análise qualitativa de conteúdo, procuramos compreender como é construída a ideia de europeidade em relação a este fenómeno. Esta análise exploratória permitiu identificar que não existe apenas uma construção da ideia da Europa, na qual os migrantes ou refugiados são o outro, mas também uma ideia da Europa intrinsecamente incompatível com a rejeição desse outro, incompatível com ideias e movimentos de extrema direita ou xenófobos. Ser europeu, portanto, é ser não-muçulmano, ser não-refugiado, e ser não-xenófobo.

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Notas da redacção

DOI: 10.17231/comsoc.38(2020).2582
Submitted: 10/04/2020 - Accepted: 12/05/2020

Texto integral

Us and Them in the media

1Cultural Studies have revolved around a critical approach to the concept of culture, deconstructing both its classical anthropological as well as its cultural production configurations. Seeing culture as transversal to all levels of social life, being much more complex and contradictory than traditionally theorized, the field has had an enormous contribution in contesting essentialist theories and concepts, such as that of identity, in its various forms, namely national identity, as an “imagined community” (Anderson, 1983/2016). We are particularly interested in the discursive interplay between this particularly strong and institutionally supported collective identity and the supranational European imagined community, which has been promoted, appropriated and constructed along with the process of political and economic integration, since “increasingly the citizens of the European Union are being evoked as a different imagined community: as Europeans, an identity perhaps as problematic as the particularist National identities it is intended to replace” (Geary, 2013, p. 39). European Nation-States have been built on the basis of contradictory discourses about their origins. With the birth of the European Community, the idea of Europe as a cohesive whole became an important part of European integration, raising the question of “what are the new National myths on which a European National identity might be based?” and, a maybe even more important question, “what might be the dangers of such a new identity?” (Geary, 2013, p. 45).

2The perils, one could argue, can be the same as those raised by the idea of the Nation-State, namely, who gets to “sing it” (Butler & Spivak, 2007), who is allowed to be a part of us or not (Butler & Spivak, 2007; El-Tayeb, 2011), who is othered, what performances are accepted, since, as Judith Butler explains, the State (which we expand to also mean the European supranational State) “can signify the source of non-belonging, even produce that non-belonging as a quasi-permanent state” (Butler & Spivak, 2007, p. 4).

3The non-Europeans arriving at Europe’s borders raise the issue of the construction of Europeanness in a particularly strong way. The production and reaffirmation of a particular discourse about us, could, as argued, be expanded from the imagined community of the Nation-State to the European supranational realm, creating a European source of non-belonging, as Fatima El-Tayeb argues:

the continued inability or rather unwillingness to confront, let alone overcome, the glaring whiteness underlying Europe’s self-image has rather drastic consequences for migrants and minority communities routinely ignored, marginalized, and dened as a threat to the very Europe they are part of, their presence usually only acknowledged as a sign of crisis and forgotten again in the ongoing construction of a new European identity. (El-Tayeb, 2011, p. xxv)

4The context of the so-called “refugee crisis” has a strong potential of allowing us to understand what discourses appear in the media regarding collective identities as tied to political belonging, which of them are rendered subaltern and which are presented as common sense (i.e. hegemonic). We refer to it as a “so-called crisis” because the use of the concept of “crisis” as commonsensical already frames the issue in a certain way, it “is a choice that is steeped in racial, gender, and colonialist politics” (Nawyn, 2018, p. 1).

While crisis language can also motivate quick action and additional resources for refugees, in the current climate refugees are the losers in crisis language, as it has motivated hardened borders rather than compassionate assistance and protection. (Nawyn, 2018, p. 14)

5And the same idea is reinforced by Fatima El-Tayeb (2011):

the scant references to migratory movements that are present show them as a very recent phenomenon, largely reduced to stories of desperate refugees – presenting migration firstly as an anomaly, caused by some kind of crisis in the region of origin and secondly as something that happens to Europe without the continent having any active part in it. (El-Tayeb, 2011, p. 166)

6The media play an extremely important role in this process of constructing the barriers between us and them, mainly in the reproduction of representations about others, with whom the audience does not have direct contact. Narratives are constantly retold in every news story, resonating with previous stories, creating the sensation of an “infinitely repeated drama” (Rock, 1981, quoted in Bird & Dardenne, 1999, p. 268), while journalists operate under the illusion of simply using the most efficient technical methods to portray reality according to objective criteria of the news values of immediacy, unusualness, simplicity. But the way in which these stories are told, drawing from narrative codes such as villains and heroes (Bird & Dardenne, 1999, pp. 269, 275), is not simply a neutral technique to make news items more engaging, it reflects culturally pre-established “maps of meaning” (Hall, 1993). The media have a noteworthy amount of power to define and redefine these narratives, since “the telling of a story necessarily excludes all other stories that are never told” (Bird & Dardenne, 1999, p. 277). This power is especially strong in mainstream media outlets (Chomsky, 1997) since news stories are part of a set of practices socially regarded as trustworthy, and with the medium acting as an authority figure towards the public (Bird & Dardenne, 1999, p. 275). Thus, analyzing how the media portrays those who are presented as outsiders allows us to explore the prevalent discourse around the idea of Europeanness, as an “imagined community” (Anderson, 1983/2016) tied together by a certain view of European identity.

Methodological considerations

  • 1 Corpus retrieved from:
  • 2 In the case of Spiegel, which has articles in English, only the German articles were taken into con (...)

7The analysis performed in this paper is part of a larger research project on ideologies regarding national and European identities in the Portuguese and German online media from 2011 to 2017. The appropriateness of the choice of Germany and Portugal as specific points of intersection between two Europes, Northern and Southern Europe, as a way of exploring how this idea of National identities is constructed, extends to the exploration of the construction of an idea of Europe, especially, taking into account the role of Germany in the context of the so-called refugee crisis, regarding these “non-Europen others”. Following a strategy of strategic selection and saturation (Frow & Morris, 2006), two media outlets werehall selected by country, according to their “social personalities” (Hall, Critcher, Jefferson, Clarke & Roberts, 1978, p. 60), namely selecting the most-read online tabloid and elite (Gossel, 2017; Chomsky, 1997), news outlets, at the time of the beginning of the data collection (Marktest, 2018, Schröder, 2018): Diário de Notícias (DN) and Correio da Manhã (CM), in Portugal, and Spiegel and Bild, in Germany, and uses a qualitative content analysis methodology (Bardin, 2007)1. For this qualitative analysis, we conducted a strategic timeframe selection, around each of the legislative electoral periods in each country, as well as for the European Parliament elections. Elections are seen as particularly rich discursive contexts in which to study issues of identity and crisis, with political conflict and discourse heightened and media coverage on political issues more prolific. For these timeframes, and for each one of the news outlets, data collection started with an online search through the search engine Google, for strategically selected keywords filtered by date (according to the timeframes), which was completed by a second data search in the news outlets’ internal search engines and “related news” in the same timeframe2. The data was then filtered, in order to reach theoretical data saturation. From the final data selection, for the purpose of this paper, the articles referring to the “migration/refugee crisis” were selected.

8To analyze the selected articles, we developed a model, based on Bardin’s (2007) content analysis and a combination of Stuart Hall’s Encoding, decoding (1993) model and his work on Policing the crisis (Hall et al., 1978). Our model consists of two sets of tables for each news outlet: the definer tables (in which each discourse is attributed to the sources or definers quoted in the articles), and the newspaper tables (in which the discourse is attributed directly to the newspaper as such). For every individual definer identified in each article, as well as for each media outlet, a table was created, in order to identify what is said about us/them in each context and time period. After this first analysis, we were able to group the discourses and draw relations between them, thus creating the categories and corresponding sub-categories and frames.

Who is the other?

9This analysis allowed us to identify different main categories of discourses regarding the other, in relation to the so-called “refugee/migration crisis”. We identified three main categories of others: the muslim, the refugee, and the political/institutional other. These others were framed in different ways. Regarding the “muslim other”, the only frame is “we are not Muslim”; regarding the “refugee other”, the main frames are that he “is welcome”, “is not welcome” and “is not our problem”, with a series of variations within these main frames; regarding the “political/institutional other”, the main identified frames are: “Europe of the Nation States”, “E.U. as the other”, and the “far right other”.

10We will now lay out how these others are framed in the different media outlets, taking into account the sources, or definers, who are quoted, when applicable, and illustrating the frames with examples of the corresponding discourses. The data included in the tables is not an extensive reproduction of the analyzed data, but merely serves illustrative purposes.

The Muslim other

We are not Muslim

11This category draws on a symbolic representation of identity, naming the other, whether explicitly or implicitly, based on the axis of religion, understood in the broader sense as a symbolic cultural referent.

Germany is not Muslim

12This discourse frames Germany as not being Muslim, or Islam as not being German, even though Muslim people reside in the country. This does not mean that the discourse explicitly rejects the possibility of Muslim presence, or “integration”, but, nevertheless, the underlying idea, is that it is not a part of the idea of us. It appears in Diário de Notícias (DN), Bild and Spiegel, at times, quoting, either directly or indirectly, definers from the German CDU and AfD (see list of political parties).

Table 1: “Germany is not Muslim”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

CDU

Asked about the compatibility between Islam and German culture, the chancellor stressed that these are compatible realities as long as the German Constitution is respected. (Gouveia, 2017)

News article

AfD

This is a question that goes beyond morality. Of course, anyone who accepts our values, our Constitution, is welcome, but we do not want within a few generations to have Sharia established here. (Hansel, 2017)

News article

He [Gauland, AfD] does not defend the superiority of the Aryan race over the others but says that Germany should not receive Syrian refugees because, I quote, “Islam is not part of German culture” (Tadeu, 2017)

Opinion

Bild

AfD

Border closure! Stop immigration, deport refugees rigorously (“negative immigration”), reduce the brain drain. Burka-/minaret ban. No asylum without papers. No German passport for migrant children. (Vehlewald, 2017)

News article

Spiegel

Spiegel

Muslims living in Germany are less likely than most other EU countries to feel disadvantaged because of their skin color or origin – Germany is in the middle regarding discrimination because of religion. (Reimann & van Hove, 2017)

News article

Europe is not Muslim

13The same type of frame can be also found regarding Europe’s symbolic representation as not being Muslim. In this case, these frames can be found in CM, DN and Spiegel, and the quoted definers are representatives of the Portuguese PNR, an NGO, and opinion pieces (op-eds) by an academic and a journalist.

Table 2 : “Europe is not Muslim”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

DN

These results “completely discredit the claim that Muslims are not integrated into our societies” (DN, 2017)

News article

Portuguese journalist

Especially because Aylan was probably a Muslim – and we are afraid of Islam, and with reason. Especially because the “European leaders” we encourage know as much as we do. (Câncio, 2015)

Opinion

Portuguese academic

Religious differentiation, which is the most dangerous inspiration for terrorism ever remembered by the Twin Towers of New York, is present. (Moreira, 2015)

Opinion

CM

PNR

Islamic conquest of Europe. (CM, 2015)

News article

Spiegel

Spiegel

EU study: more Muslims complain of discrimination because of their religion. (…) Particularly often headscarf or veil-wearing Muslim women reported from hostility to physical attacks. (Reimann & van Hove, 2017)

News article

Portugal is not Muslim

14Almost absent from the discourse regarding Portugal, the issue of Islam is only raised by a representative of the PNR party, in Correio da Manhã.

Table 3 : “Portugal is not Muslim”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

CM

PNR

On Wednesday, the National Renovator Party (PNR) warned, during a street raid in Lisbon in the late afternoon, against the “Islamic invasion” that threatens the country and Europe. (CM, 2015)

News article

The refugee other

15Regarding “the Refugee” as other, we identified two main frames: the “is welcome” and the “is not welcome”. In each of those frames, different discourses present different justifications for why they are welcome, or not. They also vary, to an extent, depending on who is or isn’t welcoming them, namely, the government or civil society. It has an almost exclusive relevance in the context of Germany, as will be seen in the presented illustrative examples.

Is welcome: by the German government

16This discourse appears in all the analyzed media outlets. It presents the German government, or Angela Merkel specifically, as being welcoming to refugees arriving in the country. This policy is viewed mostly as positive, but not exclusively, since, at times, it is presented critically. The definers adopting this frame, aside from the media outlets, are a Portuguese diplomat and a representative of the German CDU, and journalists in opinion articles, in a positive tone, and critically, a representative of the AfD, as well as the German media.

Table 4 : “The refugee other is welcome by the German government – positive tone”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

CM

Portuguese diplomat

Berlin has given exemplary support to these refugees. (Falcão-Machado, 2017)

Opinion

Bild

Bild

While states like Germany, Austria or even Sweden face up to the challenge, they show a great receptivity and welcome culture. (Bild, 2015)

News article

Spiegel

CDU/German journalist

Now she is the refugee chancellor, who is outraged when she is accused of admitting too many refugees into the country: “I have to honestly say: if we have to start apologizing now that we show a friendly face in emergency situations, then this is not my country”. (Nelles, 2015)

Opinion

Table 5 : “The refugee other is welcome by the German government – critical tone”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

AfD

The refugee crisis, which is no natural disaster, is a crisis generated by Merkel’s hand (Hansel, 2017)

Interview

Bild

Bild

Is our German asylum law really an incentive for refugees to come to us? Asylum seekers in Germany receive accommodation, meals and up to 359 euros/month. (Bild, 2015)

News article

Spiegel

Spiegel

Merkel must accept the accusation of having favored the rise of right-wing populists with her refugee policies. (Becker & Wiemann , 2017)

News article

Is welcome: as an economic asset

17This type of discourse frames the arriving refugees as being potentially useful economically, i.e. instrumentalizing them as welcome, because they may be an economic asset, for the workforce. It appears in the German media outlets, having as definers representatives of Die Grünen, SPD and CDU/CSU as well as, in DN, in an op-ed by a Portuguese academic. At times, immigrants and refugees are seen as non-differentiated.

Table 6 : “The refugee other is welcome as an economic asset”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

Portuguese academic

Why wouldn’t Merkel take this opportunity for the entrance of a cheap, almost slave labor, who can certainly work at minimal prices in the German economy? Solidarity? I do not think so. (Almeida, 2015)

Opinion

Bild

SPD

The SPD still wants to take on refugees in need, specifically recruit skilled workers as needed. (Vehlewald, 2017)

News article

CDU/CSU

The Union [CDU/CSU] wants to control immigration “wisely” by a “skilled labor immigration law”. (Vehlewald, 2017)

News article

Is welcome: as long as our “culture” is respected

18This type of discourse is a conditional view of the welcoming policies: refugees are seen as welcome, but being an other, their presence is conditional regarding their “acceptance” of “our values” or “our culture”. Instead of using an essentialist symbolic representation-based othering, it uses a civic type of language to draw the othering line. It appears in the Portuguese media outlets, having as definers representatives of the German CDU, SPD and AfD.

Table 7 : “The refugee other is welcome as long as our ‘culture’ is respected”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

AfD

Of course that whoever accepts our values, our Constitution, is welcome, but we do not want to have the Sharia established here within a few generations. (Hansel, 2017)

Interview

CM

CDU

Accepting German laws and values means “to tell the real name and country of origin to employers, not to fight, to have patience and to respect others, regardless of religion or gender. (CM, 2015)

News article

Bild

SPD

Our values are not up for discussion. (...) In an open society, it does not matter if this society is ethnically homogenous, but if it has a shared value basis. (Bild, 2015)

News article

Immigration society

19This type of discourse, inserted in the “Is welcome” category, frames German and European society as being, or urging it to be, solidary, and welcoming of migrants and/or refugees, as a feature of society itself. It appears in Bild and Diário de Notícias, and has as its definers representatives of the German parties Die Linke and Die Grünen, as well as a German supermarket chain.

Table 8 : “The refugee other: immigration society”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

DN

German supermarket removes foreign products to teach lesson against xenophobia (…) “we will be poorer without diversity”, said one of the posters placed on the empty shelves. (DN, 2017)

News article

Bild

Die Linke

Die Linke wants to facilitate immigration (“solidary immigration society”). Specifically: Right to work, health and social care for all immigrants (not only those persecuted) after 3 months at the latest. (Vehlewald, 2017)

News article

Die Grünen

“The Greens demand “safe and legal ways” to Germany, better family reunification” (Vehlewald, 2017)

News article

The “good” migrant

20Inserted in the same category, this frame uses an anecdotal story in Diário de Notícias about a refugee, presenting a positive view through exemplification. It is interesting to note the contrast to the anecdotal story that will be referred to in the “is not welcome” category, by Correio da Manhã (CM, 2017), in the opposite sense.

Table 9: “The refugee other: the ‘good’ migrant”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

DN

German police reported that a 16-year-old Iraqi refugee is in the process of receiving a reward for delivering a lost 14.000-euro handbag inside. (DN, 2017)

News article

Is tragic: crisis

21This frame, to some extent underlying the general coverage of the “crisis”, presents the situation of refugees, mainly Syrian, as a tragedy, and focuses on the horrors experienced, either in their homeland, or during the migratory process to Europe. It appears in Bild, Diário de Notícas and Spiegel, and its definers are an academics and a journalist, in op eds, and the German news outlets themselves.

Table 10 : “The refugee other is tragic: crisis”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

British academic

The powerful images of people traveling long distances on railways and motorways have created a general feeling of crisis in Europe. But much of this tragedy and chaos is preventable. (Betts, 2015)

Opinion

Bild

Bild

Miserable regions and in their desperation often do not fear the dangers of life to find a place of refuge with the perspective of a better life. (Bild, 2015)

News article

Spiegel

Spiegel

Most of the asylum seekers in Germany have fled Russia, Syria, Afghanistan and Serbia, from persecution and hunger, from war, from fear of dying in their home countries. (Roth, 2013)

News article

Is tragic: European responsibility

22The idea of tragedy and crisis is, as stated in the introduction, almost universally transversal to the discourses about refugees and migrants. However, there is one article which shows a breach in the hegemonic idea that the crisis is not caused by Europe. Even if still within the “tragedy frame” and presented as an “error”, or bad political tactic by Europe. It is in an op-ed by a Portuguese academic, in DN.

Table 11 : “The refugee other is tragic: European responsibility”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

Portuguese academic

Because what we face now is a human drama that has, among many other causes, Western errors, namely unsubstantiated military interventions, or forgetting the prudential rule of choosing a lesser evil, as, for example, happened in Iraq. The only way to stop this emigration is to be able to establish a good government in the origin of the fugitives, and in the elimination of the companies that grow profits as they cause the transformation of the Mediterranean into a cemetery. (Moreira, 2015)

Opinion

Is not welcome

23This category encompasses the discourses that frame refugees as not being welcome, in Germany or Portugal, both those that contradict the dominant discourse that they are being welcomed by the government (thus emphasizing that they are not as welcoming as portrayed), and those that directly claim that they should not be welcomed, for various reasons.

In Germany: by the government

24This frame, as explained, challenges the previously outlined frame of the Germany government as being particularly “welcoming” in the face of the so-called refugee crisis. It appears in both the elite news outlets, Spiegel and Diário de Notícias, having as definers Spiegel and academics.

Table 12 : “The refugee other is not so welcome in Germany: by the government”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

German academic

But for Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, the change in German refugee policy has already taken place. In the coming years, the academic anticipates the transition from an “uncontrolled flow to a controlled flow” of refugees. (Tecedeiro, 2017)

News article

Spiegel

Spiegel

Internationally, it looks like this: Malta (5.000 asylum seekers per million inhabitants), Sweden (4.600) and Austria (2.100) are clearly ahead of Germany, where 930 asylum seekers came for every 1 million inhabitants in 2012. (Roth, 2013)

News article

In Germany: by civil society

25This frame focuses on the ways in which civil society, in Germany, is not being welcoming to refugees, namely through electoral expression, among other demonstrations. It is a frame that is critical of such a posture, and appears, once again, in the elite media outlets, Spiegel and Diário de Notícias, with the same definers, adding the foreign press in a press review published in Spiegel.

Table 13 : “The refugee other is not so welcome in Germany: by civil society”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

DN

Charlotte is not surprised. “I think there was always a racist base in German society that now sees AfD as what it has always wanted. In Saxony it is like that. (Viegas, 2017)

Feature

Spiegel

Spiegel

Refugees are being labeled as criminals and welcomed in the neighborhood with Hitler salute. Not just members of the right-wing parties. But also – and that is actually dramatic in the current events – frightened citizens. (Roth, 2013)

News article

Is a threat: security, economy, symbolic representation

26Differently than the two previous frames, that portray the negative attitude regarding refugees in a critical way, the three following frames represent the views of those who reject the presence of refugees, using a series of justifications, often bundled together: security, economy and symbolic representation of identity or culture.

27The security defense, claiming that the arrival of refugees is a security threat, appears in Correio da Manhã, Bild and Diário de Notícias, having as definers, aside from the tabloid media outlets, a Portuguese diplomat (former ambassador) in an op-ed, a representative of the CSU, a representative of the AfD and a journalist in an interview.

Table 14 : “The refugee other is a threat to Germany: security”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

AfD

And then there are security problems, there was an attack in Berlin here, because there is no real border control. This is not xenophobia. It’s a fact. (Hansel, 2017)

Interview

German journalist

After the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks, the population wants to feel safe, better protected. (Schuster, 2017)

Interview

CM

CM

Refugee rapes and kills daughter of EU consultant. (CM, 2017)

News article

Bild

CSU

Bavaria’s finance minister Markus Söder (48) warned: Many refugees come from the civil war – “maybe also civil warriors”. (Bild, 2015)

News article

28In these discourses, closely tied to the two others in this frame, the economic threat of refugees is underlined. It appears in Correio da Manhã, Bild and Diário de Notícias, having as definers Bild, the same Portuguese diplomat in an op-ed and representatives of the AfD.

Table 15 : “The refugee other is a threat to Germany: economy”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

DN

A supporter of the CDU, she thinks that “many people voted for AfD because they are afraid of refugees and think the state gives them more money than they do. It’s not true. The state helps all the people who are poor”. (Viegas, 2017)

Feature

CM

Portuguese diplomat

Many are those who criticize such openness, as they fear the effects it will have on employment levels. (Falcão-Machado, 2017)

Opinion

Bild

Bild, CDU

The government still wants to reduce the payment (…) The reason: “no false incentives should be set”. (Bild, 2015)

News article

29This type of discourse draws on symbolic representations of identity, or culture, to present refugees as a threat, specifically regarding Muslim refugees (adding to the aforementioned othering of “The Muslim”, in general). It appears in Correio da Manhã, Bild and Diário de Notícias, in the same discourses of the Portuguese diplomat and representatives of the AfD.

Table 16 : “The refugee other is a threat to Germany: symbolic representation”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

CM

Portuguese diplomat

Berlin has given exemplary support to these refugees, but many are those who criticize such openness, as they fear the effects it will have on (…) German identity. (Falcão-Machado, 2017)

Opinion

Bild

AfD

Burka-/minaret ban. (Vehlewald, 2017)

News article

In Portugal: threat

30Regarding Portugal, this is the only category in which refugee “issue” appears, exclusively framing the other as a threat, using the triple symbolic, economic and security frame. It appears in Correio da Manhã, having a representative of PNR as a definer.

Table 17 : “The refugee other is not welcome in Portugal: threat”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

CM

PNR

“We are the only party in Portugal that denounces this situation and warns of the danger that this represents against our internal security and against our identity”, claimed Pinto-Coelho, considering that the announced support for refugees “represents an affront, an offense” to many Portuguese people who “are not given a home, are not given subsidies”. (Lusa, 2015)

News article

In Europe

31Here we find discourses that present the European Union, and its main decision makers, as an institutional other, regarding the response to the “crisis”, criticizing the way in which the E.U. has handled the situation. It is a critical discourse that points to the hypocrisies in dealing with the “crisis”. They are conveyed by Bild and Diário de Notícias, having as definers, Bild, academic in op-eds and a former British Labour MP.

Table 18 : “The refugee other is not welcome in Europe”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

Portuguese journalist

Especially because the reason why Aylan came to our beach is too complex, too difficult (who has a solution for Syria and ISIS, raise your arm), too contradictory to our vision of Europeans who despair at low birth rates but don’t want to nor dream of compensating it with non-Europeans. Even because hosting and integrating the Aylans costs money. (Câncio, 2015)

Opinion

British academic

Europe needs a clear strategy on who it wants to protect and where and how to assess people’s asylum applications. (Betts, 2015)

Interview

Portuguese academic

It is almost impossible – unfortunately – to fail to observe how the hypocrisy of realpolitik and the world of geostrategic and political interests intersect for (…) offer an even more inhumane dimension to this tragedy. (Almeida, 2015)

Opinion

Bild

Bild

But whether such images of misery, helplessness and exhaustion, created on European soil, will really be a thing of the past here depends very much on whether the European Union finally manages to agree on a common refugee policy. (Bild, 2015)

News article

Is not our problem

32The only other instance in which Portugal appears, in relation to the refugee crisis, in the analyzed data, is, in fact, to frame the issue as virtually non-existent in Portugal, due to the absence of migrants or refugees. It appears in Correio da Manhã, having a representative of the PSD as a definer.

Table 19 : “The refugee other is not our problem”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

CM

PSD

“In Portugal we have no reason to have the kind of concerns that are felt in Germany and in the center of Europe, which have been particularly sought after by movements of refugees”, he [Pedro Passos Coelho] said. (CM, 2017)

News article

De-othering: representation

33Regarding the two first others, the Muslim and the Refugee, the non-European or external others, there are only two instances in which these others are the definers. Both are feature stories by Diário de Notícias, set in Germany, in which the other is heard when writing about the issue of refugees and migration, namely a representative of a Turkish Community association, and a Syrian refugee who works as a tour guide in Berlin.

Table 20 : “De-othering”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

Representative turkish community, DN

Cighan Sinanoglu, a spokesman for the organization Türkische Gemeinde in Deutschland, says the same. “We always knew that there was a potential here for the extreme right of 20%, which previously could be contained by the CDU and the SPD. Now, with immigration and refugees, the situation has gotten out of control. There is racism and, for this, some will vote for AfD, which in my view is a party that did not accept globalization. But there are also those who vote out of fear or fatigue of the big parties”, says the 34-year-old German of Turkish origin. (Viegas, 2017)

Feature

Syrian refugee, DN

Mohamad fled because he did not want to serve in Assad’s army. In Germany, he studies and takes guided tours comparing the history of Germany and Syria. (…) The tour, which lasts two hours, then ends with a visit to a Syrian restaurant “this is where, in 1953, people displeased with the GDR communist regime protested”, explains Mohamad, to a group that includes people from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Poland, Uzbekistan, Lithuania etc... Along the way, parallels between the history of Germany and Syria are established, “do you see Checkpoint Charlie? In Syria, checkpoints are something very present in everyday life- It is something that may seem strange to you. But it is something that intimidates. It causes fear”, recalls the Syrian, who just received a scholarship to study Economics and Political Science. (Viegas, 2017)

Feature

The political/institutional other

34In this category, we encompassed those discourses that other either political institutions or political ideologies, in relation to the “refugee/migration crisis”. There is an othering of other European countries/governments and of European institutions, regarding their response to the “crisis”, as well as an othering of the far right.

Europe of the Nation States

35This frame portrays a division within the European Union, between countries that are welcoming to refugees in contrast to those who are not, or criticizing an alleged unequal distribution of resettlement efforts. It appears in the German media, Bild and Spiegel, having as definers the news outlets themselves, as well as a representative of the SPD and a German journalist, in an op-ed.

Table 21 : “The political/institutional other: Europe of the Nation States”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

Bild

Bild

Other EU states, such as Hungary, are presenting themselves from an ugly side and are putting their faith in a martial deterrent policy, without compassion. (Bild, 2015)

News article

SPD

Asylum applications should be submitted before entry into the EU, asylum seekers distributed “fairly” in Europe. (Vehlewald, 2017)

News article

Spiegel

Spiegel

In refugee policy, Europe is experiencing a return of nation states that have their own interests in view, at the cost of European values. (…) In the dispute over a refugee quota, a majority of EU states simply overruled dissenters from Eastern Europe. (Deggerich, Müller, Popp, Puhl, Ulrich, Wiedmann-Schmidt & Wilkens, 2015)

News article

German journalist

Should it have been the Chancellor’s calculation that the neighbors would make an example of our charity, she has thoroughly miscalculated. We are becoming more and more lonely. (Fleischhauer, 2015)

Opinion

The xenophobe other

The far-right they

36This category others the far-right, as not being part of the idea of us, as a “shock”, and as something that must be fought against. It is used by Correio da Manhã, Diário de Notícias and Spiegel, having as definers news agencies, DN and Spiegel, representatives of the CSU and the European Comission, academics, intellectuals and journalists in op-eds. It is quite a recurrent discourse, so just a few illustrative examples will be listed.

Table 22 : “The oolitical/institutional other: the xenophope other – the far-right they”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

Academic

Nationalist and Eurosceptic movements that support the formation of forces opposed to Europeans of unity cannot be ignored, affirming the risk of European cultural values and of Europe’s very identity. (Moreira, 2015)

Opinion

CM

CM

Shouting “all of Berlin hates the Nazis”, or “the Nazis” or “racism is not an alternative”, the quite young demonstrators showed their revolt. (CM, 2017)

News article

Spiegel

German journalist

These differences, as I see it, are above all the history of Nazi Germany and thus the responsibility before the Holocaust, a basic social consensus that was staged again after the reunification of Germany with the Holocaust memorial in the middle of Berlin, but that has lost more and more of its naturalness in recent years. (Diez, 2017)

Opinion

CSU

Neo-Nazis harm our homeland. (Roth, 2013)

News article

The far-right in them

37Regarding Germany, there are instances in which the far-right is represented as being, in fact, part of the identity, and not a shock, or alien. However, this appears only in the Portuguese media, and is still an instance of othering, since it is a case of a Portuguese intellectual describing German society in an op-ed in DN, and, in the case of two feature stories in Berlin, by the same media outlet, the interviewed people are either othering far-right Germans as East Germans, or the example of the aforementioned refugee living in Berlin. In the case of Spiegel, this discourse appears in foreign press review.

Table 23: “The political/institutional other: the xenophope other – the far right in them”

News outlet

Definer

Quote

Type

DN

Portuguese intellectual

The neo-Nazi nationalism of AfD is a problem of “normality” in overdose. (Marques, 2017)

Opinion

DN

Charlotte is not surprised. “I think there was always a racist base in German society that now sees AfD as what it has always wanted. In Saxony it is like that. I don’t see myself going back there. People in Saxony are afraid of what is normal here in Kreuzberg. A mixture of all” (Viegas, 2017)

Feature

Spiegel

Foreign press

“Country from which the Nazi terror once originated”; “Germany is no longer a “holy special case”, the “moral superiority” to its European neighbors and the USA will, therefore, “decrease rapidly”. (Der Spiegel, 2017)

News article

Who are we?

38Even though there are different discourses about migrants and refugees in the media, the othering process in itself is hegemonic. There are only two instances in which the migrant or refugee is not talked about but talked to, as a definer in the media articles. This is particularly impactful in the case of the feature story in which a Syrian refugee establishes, through the reference to material historically charged heritage, a rapprochement between us and them (Viegas, 2017). This paradox of an idea of Europe as internally diverse, but with clear barriers to this diversity, based on a certain European symbolic sameness, becomes evident in these discourses.

39There seems to be a higher possibility for empathy, for bridging the us/them divide, in feature stories, where the journalist has direct contact with non-hegemonic definers. This idea that feature stories open up the possibility for counter-hegemonic discourses, nevertheless, does not necessarily eliminate the ideological framework behind the “journalistic common sense” theorized in Hall et al. (1978) model of the dimensions of feature news values. As the authors point out, the “move to feature”, the “[a]ssessment of events as having a background not covered by hard news story”, with the ideological function of placing “the events and the actors on a ‘map’ of society”, could in the general coverage by the media outlet, end up playing the part of “[r]eintegration of feature into paper’s dominant discourse”, in which the media make “the event and its implications ‘manageable’, i.e. not destructive of, or demanding changes in, [the] basic structure of society” (Hall et al., 1978, p. 99). This dynamic analysis that is contingent on data divided according to the coverage by newspaper is outside the scope of this paper, but needs, nonetheless, to be considered when regarding these preliminary conclusions.

40Another discourse that appears to be hegemonic, and in line with the theoretical basis for this study (El-Tayeb, 2011; Nawyn, 2018) is the one that frames migration and the “refugee crisis” as such, as a crisis, and one that is independent from European history and policies. Its causes and consequences are only seen as a European responsibility, at best, in a human rights or solidarity frame, never as an actual political and historical responsibility nor connection. At the most, the situation in the countries of origin is seen as “too complex, too difficult” (Câncio, 2015), and, in the one case where European responsibility is mentioned (Moreira, 2015), it is still in the frame of European exceptionalism. As Fatima El-Tayeb points out, in her critical analysis of the discourses used by the Museum of Europe to represent Europeanness:

a number of questions such as “what policies are needed to offer immigrants perspectives while preventing an upset of the demographic, economic, and cultural balance of the host nations? How should we react to the daily horrors of people risking their lives to reach the promised land called Europe?” frame migration as a new and urgent crisis, detached from the continent’s “hour zero” and the resulting need for cheap labor, decolonization, or “the fall of the wall,” resulting in a mass migration from East to West-instead forever suddenly appearing on the horizon of an unsuspecting Europe that feels obliged to react, within sensible limits, due to its commitment to human rights, not because it already is an active, powerful participant in the process. (El-Tayeb, 2011, p. 166)

41Regarding the political othering process, the hegemonic discourse is based on the idea that the far-right is intrinsically non-European or anti-European, a diametrically opposed other, that has to be eliminated because it logically does not belong. Regarding Europe as a whole, the presence of the far-right is seen as an outlier, a “shock”, a logical glitch in the system of Europeanism. This contrasts with the, at times, critical stances taken in relation to the othering of non-Europeans as part of the lack of appropriate policies, which, nonetheless, is a discourse that does not see far right ideas as part of us, even if the far-right history, especially Nazi history in Germany, is referred to and mentioned. Europe is framed as having a set of common values, and movements and ideas that go against these values, such as the far-right, are seen as a “shock”, an “abnormality”, as if they are intrinsically not possible in Europe. Far-right supporters are Eastern Europe, ill-informed people, fearmongers – not “real Europeans”. Even when there is a criticism of xenophobia or islamophobia, it is under the assumption that these are un-European, that they have been overcome, on the “European ideology of colorblindness” (El-Tayeb, 2011, p. 177). A small breach in this commonsensical approach appears in the op-ed by a German journalist, when it is explicitly said that this consensus has “has lost more and more of its naturalness in recent years” (Diez, 2017), but, again, this is a shock, and the idea of consensus is the starting point.

42As the collected data point out, there is not only a construction of the idea of Europe in which migrants or refugees are the other, even when talking about their “integration”, but also of an idea of Europe that is intrinsically incompatible with far-right or xenophobic ideas and movements. Being European, thus, is narrated as being not a Muslim, not a refugee, and not xenophobic.

43Aside from the general initial conclusions we have outlined in this exploratory study, further analysis would benefit from delving deeper into the dynamic interplay between variables, such as the definers, and the identified frames, merely mentioned here, which is being carried out in the doctoral research project that this paper integrates. Further exploration of the data should take into account the coverage discriminated by each media outlet, as well as by definer, type of article and other potentially relevant variables, as well as the dynamic relations between them.

44We believe the context of “crisis” proved to be, as expected, a particularly rich one in which to explore processes of othering, that, although, in this case, are only being explored in the discursive arena, have very real practical, political, social, economic consequences. The othering of the “tragic” refugee, whose “jettisoned life is thus saturated in power, though not with modes on entitlement or obligation” (Butler & Spivak, 2007, p. 32), is precisely one of the modes in which the imagined community of the State, or the supranational European Union, are discursively produced as a homogenous whole, separating who belongs and who doesn’t, and defining degrees of acceptability of different lives.

Doctoral grant from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnlogia (FCT) (ref. SFRH/BD/123609/2016). Financial support from FCT under the National Funds of MCTES and FSE.

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Bibliografia

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El-Tayeb, F. (2011). European others: queering ethnicity in postnational Europe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

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Nawyn, S. J. (2018). Refugees in the United States and the politics of crisis. In C. Menjívar; M. Ruiz & I. Ness (Eds.), The oxford handbook of migration crises. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190856908.013.23

Partido Nacional Renovador. (2009, December 02). Criação da “Aliança dos Movimentos Nacionais Europeus”. Retrieved from http://www.pnr.pt/2009/12/roma-criacao-da-alianca-dos-movimentos-nacionais-europeus/

Pieterse, J. N. (1991/1993). Fictions of Europe. In A. Gray & J. McGuigan (Eds.), Studying culture: an introductory reader (pp. 225-231). London: Edward Arnold.

Schröder, J. (2018, January 09). IVW-News-Top-50: Bild, upday, Welt und stern wachsen trotz Feiertagen gegen den Trend. Meedia. Retrieved from https://meedia.de/2018/01/09/ivw-news-top-50-bild-upday-welt-und-stern-wachsen-trotz-feiertagen-gegen-den-trend/

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Anexo

Appendix 1 - political parties

List of the mentioned political parties, grouped by European Parliament Political Group in 2020 (European Union, 2020):

Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)

CDU: Christlich Demokratische Union (Christian Democratic Union, Germany)

CSU: Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern (Christian Social Union in Bavaria, Germany)

PSD: Partido Social Democrata (Social Democratic Party, Portugal)

Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

SPD: Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party of Germany)

Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance

Die Grünen (The Greens, Germany)

Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left

Die Linke (The Left, Germany)

Identity and Democracy Group

AfD: Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany)

Alliance of European National Movements (not an EP political group, since PNR never elected MEPs)

PNR: Partido Nacional Renovador (National Renovator Party, Portugal) (Partido Nacional Renovador, 2009)

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Notas

1 Corpus retrieved from:

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/bundestagswahl-2017-deutschland-ist-doch-nicht-so-aussergewoehnlich-a-1169649.html;

https://www.bild.de/politik/inland/tag-der-deutschen-einheit/die-aktuellen-feierlichkeiten-zum-tag-der-deutschen-einheit-42876322.bild.html;

https://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/die-linke/wir-machen-die-eu-sozialer-35913290.bild.html;

http://www.cmjornal.pt/mundo/detalhe/migracoes_berlim_exige_que_refugiados_respeitem_cultura_e_leis;

http://www.cmjornal.pt/mundo/detalhe/alemanhaeleicoes-nazis-fora-centenas-de-alemaes-na-rua-contra-extrema-direita;

https://www.bild.de/politik/inland/fluechtling/wie-viele-fluechtlinge-koennen-wir-noch-aufnehmen-42590334.bild.html;

https://www.cmjornal.pt/opiniao/colunistas/miguel-alexandre-ganhao/detalhe/berlim-e-barcelona;

https://www.dn.pt/lusa/maioria-de-muculmanos-na-europa-sente-se-ligada-ao-pais-em-que-vive---estudo-8788069.html;

http://www.cmjornal.pt/politica/detalhe/passos-espera-que-merkel-consiga-conciliar-anseios-nacionais-com-expectativas-europeias;

http://www.cmjornal.pt/portugal/detalhe/eleicoes_pnr_alertou_contra_invasao_islamica_com_burcas_em_lisboa;

https://www.dn.pt/lusa/interior/refugiada-iraquiana-encontra-e-entrega-a-policia-alema-mala-com-14-mil-euros-8783400.html;

http://www.cmjornal.pt/mundo/detalhe/refugiado-viola-e-mata-filha-de-consultor-da-ue;

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/fluechtlinge-aus-syrien-ueber-das-meer-kommen-nur-die-gluecklichsten-a-1051223.html;

https://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/fluechtlingskrise/solche-bilder-will-europa-nicht-mehr-sehen-42671288.bild.html;

https://www.dn.pt/mundo/supermercado-alemao-retira-produtos-estrangeiros-em-licao-contra-xenofobia-8724962.html;

https://www.dn.pt/mundo/berlim-explicada-aos-turistas-por-um-sirio-8794377.html; https://www.dn.pt/mundo/interior/coligacao-jamaica-pelos-vistos-nao-ha-nada-melhor-8797931.html.

2 In the case of Spiegel, which has articles in English, only the German articles were taken into consideration.

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Para citar este artigo

Referência do documento impresso

Rita Himmel e Maria Manuel Baptista, «Migrants, refugees and othering: constructing europeanness. An exploration of Portuguese and German media»Comunicação e sociedade, 38 | 2020, 179-200.

Referência eletrónica

Rita Himmel e Maria Manuel Baptista, «Migrants, refugees and othering: constructing europeanness. An exploration of Portuguese and German media»Comunicação e sociedade [Online], 38 | 2020, posto online no dia 23 dezembro 2020, consultado o 27 novembro 2021. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/cs/4316

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Autores

Rita Himmel

Rita Himmel is a doctoral student in the Cultural Studies Doctoral Programme, at the University of Aveiro, and a FCT fellow, developing a research project at the intersection of the areas of Political Science and Media Studies, under the perspective of Cultural Studies, on identities, ideology and media discourses in Europe. In addition to publications on this topic, she has also focused on gender and performance issues. With a degree in Communication Sciences (2010) from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of University of Porto, she completed the Master of Science in “Political Science: International Relations” at the University of Amsterdam (2013). Before her academic career, she worked as a journalist and in the field of communications. Currently, she is part of the “Globalization and Identities” and “Gender and Performance” projects of the Research Group Between Cultures of the Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures of the University of Aveiro.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1658-2087
Email: rita.himmel[at]ua.pt
Address: Departamento e Línguas e Culturas, Universidade de Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro (Portugal)

Maria Manuel Baptista

Maria Manuel Baptista is Full Professor at the University of Aveiro, with “Agregação” in Cultural Studies, at the University of Minho (2013). She has diverse and extensive work published nationally and internationally, with an emphasis on the area of Cultural Studies. She is President of IRENNE – Association for Research, Prevention and Combat of Violence and Exclusion. She is the coordinator of GECE - Gender and Performance Group and NECO – Group of Studies in Culture and Leisure at the University of Aveiro. She is the editor of the collection “Género e Performance: Textos Essenciais”. Her research interests include issues of identity and globalization as well as migration and post-colonialism.
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1465-4393
Email: mbaptista[at]ua.pt
Address: Departamento e Línguas e Culturas, Universidade de Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro (Portugal)

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Financiamento

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

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Direitos de autor

Licence Creative Commons
Revista Comunicação e Sociedade by CECS is licensed under a Creative Commons Atribuição-Uso Não-Comercial 4.0 International.

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