The role of public broadcasting is crucial here because of the efforts made to make the news and current affairs programs polyphonic. It can always be better and changes are slow, but at a time when antagonisms between and within population groups are growing, it is important to build bridges and emphasize how we can live together.
The topic of migration has become particularly contentious in national and international debates. Media have a discernable impact on overall societal attitudes towards this phenomenon. Polls show time and again that immigration is one of the most important issues occupying people’s minds. Images of Immigrants and Refugees in Western Europe examines the dynamic interplay between media representations of migrants and refugees on the one hand and the governmental and societal (re)actions to these on the other. Q&A with editor Leen d'Haenens.
Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.
This book attempts to sketch a picture of how media play a role in the public’s mental perception of migrants and refugees: it looks at differences within Belgium and Sweden.
What or who inspired you to choose this topic?
I like to tackle socially relevant issues. Migration policy or rather the lack of it at European level, due to a lack of solidarity among the Member States, frustrates me. How migrants and refugees experience their migration trajectory and integration fascinates me.
Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, ...) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?
There are a lot of academic journals on migration and related issues out there: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, The Journal of International Migration and Integration, International Migration Review, Journal of Migration and Health, International Migration, to name just a few.
With the summer holidays approaching, I would recommend the soapy but rock-solid Netflix series “Mar de Plástico”, in which migration from North Africa and human trafficking are themes.
If you prefer a book, then I suggest “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives” (2018) by Viet Thanh Nguyen (ed.), a Pullitzer Prize-winning author who called on fellow refugee writers to share their experiences. Some truly gripping stories!
How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?
The writing process took place in parallel with the work packages in a Belspo project IM2MEDIATE. The project lasted two years and we had a full agenda. Most of the researchers already had a PhD and were well versed in the subject matter. The book idea grew during a panel presentation in Bilbao where a regional ECREA conference on migration was held. The book was finished within the following year.
What would you like readers to remember about your book?
It matters what you read, what media you listen to or watch. The role of public broadcasting is crucial here because of the efforts made to make the news and current affairs programs polyphonic. It can always be better and changes are slow, but at a time when antagonisms between and within population groups are growing, it is important to build bridges and emphasize how we can live together. This is part of the mission statement of a public broadcaster.
Your book is published open access thanks to the support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access. How did the open access publication process go? What makes open access so attractive for you/your book? Have you thus far noticed that your book reaches a wider audience?
Open access is a very interesting formula for a book to increase its readership. It even put us in second place of a top 10 of e-books selected by the Brookings Library in Washington to be shared in their wide network, and we saw that the book has already been downloaded a lot.
Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about? Would you consider publishing the book open access?
I am planning a book about extreme and uncivil ideas, what can be done about them, and who is most sensitive to them. I would definitely consider open access again.
Images of Immigrants and Refugees in Western Europe
Media Representations, Public Opinion and Refugees’ Experiences
Edited by Leen d’Haenens, Willem Joris, and François Heinderyckx