Refugee solidarity in Europe: Shifting the discourse. By E. SIAPERA


Refugee solidarity in Europe: Shifting the discourse. By E. SIAPERA

Cite as: Siapera, E., 2019,  "Refugee solidarity in Europe: Shifting the discourse", European Journal of Cultural Studies


This article focuses on the discourses in support of refugees as developed in Greece by local grassroots groups. The article theorises the public debate of the refugee issue as taking place in a hybrid media system, in which elites and policy makers, mainstream media, large non-governmental organisations and smaller solidarity groups as well as everyday people participate in unequal ways in constructing this debate and its parameters. In focusing on the solidarity discourses emerging from the grassroots, this article hopes to show how these groups seek to re-politicise the question of refugees, directly countering the (post)humanitarian and charity discourses of non-governmental organisations as well as the racist and security frames found in the mass media and policy discourses. In focusing on Greece, this article shows how two crises, the refugee and austerity crises – both symptoms of an underlying deep structural crisis of capitalism – may be dealt with in ways that overcome dilemmas of belongingness and otherness. In empirically supporting such arguments, the article posits the issue of solidarity to refugees as a research question: what kinds of solidarity do refugee support groups in Greece mobilise? This is addressed through focusing on the Facebook pages of 12 local solidarity initiatives. The analysis concludes that their alternative discourse is not based on spectacle and pity, nor on irony, but on togetherness and solidarity. This solidarity takes three forms, human, social and class solidarity, all feeding into the creation of a political project revolving around ideas of autonomy and self-organisation, freedom, equality and justice.

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