Visualizing Refugees: Cultural Representations of People on the Move

16. 11. 2017
v 16:00 hodin, zasedací místnost 207, Jilská 1, Praha 1

Sociologický ústav AV ČR, v.v.i., a katedra sociologie Institutu sociologických studií FSV UK si Vás dovolují pozvat na podzimní cyklus Čtvrtečních sociologických seminářů.

The September 2015 photograph of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy, lying face-down and dead on a Turkish beach, quickly became an iconic representation of Europe’s “refugee crisis.” Even though the images of distant suffering of refugees have become ubiquitous, only a few became iconic. It is this cultural process that often bedevils sociologists interested in visuality. How does an image gain the necessary currency to sway public opinion or even policy making? Why do some photographs elicit profound compassion that transcends the borders of its particular context? We explore how various authors have addressed these questions, focusing on the iconic images of Alan Kurdi that compelled not only public but also scholarly attention. The “iconic turn” in cultural sociology, and in the social sciences more broadly speaking, offers theoretical and methodological insights for the analysis of images such as those depicting refugees and asylum seekers. For this reason, we situate the current work in the field of refugee photography within the framework of cultural sociology, even if many of the scholars discussed are from other disciplines.


Bernadette Nadya Jaworsky is an associate professor in the Sociology Department at Masaryk University and a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University. Her PhD dissertation focused on debates about unauthorized immigrants: ‘It’s just not Main Street anymore!’ Mapping Out the Boundaries of Belonging in a New Immigrant Gateway. In 2014, she co-authored Obama Power with Jeffrey C. Alexander. The Boundaries of Belonging: Online Work of Immigration-Related Social Movement Organizations, has been published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016. Her current research focuses on newspaper coverage of refugees entering Canada and the United States.