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The Racialization of Syrian Refugees in National Newspapers in Jordan and Turkey

Sat, August 12, 10:30 to 11:30am, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Floor: Level 5, 517B


This paper addresses the process of racialization of Syrian refugees in the largest national newspapers in two neighboring countries, Jordan and Turkey. Building on theories of racialized representations, newspapers’ discourses are found to reduce the depiction of Syrian refugees into essentialized attributes constructing binary oppositions between self and other that ultimately justifies forms of exclusion, discrimination and segregation. While legally Syrians in both countries are denied the status of a refugee, their victimized position as a result of displacement, public discourse and media representation plays an important role in the process of their othering. Media representations accentuate the process of othering by portraying narratives that are built on the understanding of moral and cultural differentiations which provide the cornerstones for racialization. Highlighting the forms of representation of Syrian refugees in the largest newspapers in two neighboring countries, Jordan and Turkey, this paper illustrates the process of racialization that constructs the moral boundaries for protection, responsibility and resettlement. These forms of representation consequently allow us to understand specific forms of policies (or lack thereof) that targeted the lives of Syrian refugees within the two countries’ national borders. In the process, the argument offers an understanding of racialization that does not build on physical difference but a moral and cultural boundary that is considered immutable and essential.


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