Detalle Publicación

Refugees' mediated narratives in the public sphere

Título de la revista: NARRATIVE
ISSN: 1063-3685
Volumen: 29
Número: 2
Páginas: 210 - 223
Fecha de publicación: 2021
Among the most pressing matters dominating the public sphere is the refugee crisis, but the news does not present readers/audiences with a story one can easily relate to. The opposite may be said of human rights activists who turn to life narrative as a counterpart to the dehumanizing practices at the heart of much of public discourse. This essay looks at the major role of agencies such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in mediating refugees' narratives. It builds on a key interview obtained with that organization's former Chief Communications Officer, Melissa Fleming, whose role epitomizes the humanitarian narrative of today. Social media and their affordances play an important role in distributing the message and allowing for private lives to enter the public sphere. Refugees' mediated narratives offer a significant counternarrative to the mainstream media attempts to erase or flatten out individual stories. However, attention must be paid to the problematics surrounding the ethics of mediation, especially in the case of life narratives of human suffering and vulnerable others. Common challenges to mediated narratives are, among others, appropriation and commoditization, questioning who tells whose story, how, and why. The very idea of empathy is subject to criticism. Though admittedly fraught with pitfalls, testimonial narratives have the potential to shake people's consciences and to effect social change.