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Harvard
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Communications & Media
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Research Paper
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Visual Representation of Refugees Through the Image of Aylan Kurdi (Research Paper Sample)

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Visual Representation of Refugees through the Image of Aylan Kurdi

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Visual Representation of Refugees through the Image of Aylan Kurdi
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Contents TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u Introduction PAGEREF _Toc8656367 \h 3Context PAGEREF _Toc8656368 \h 4The Case of Aylan Kurdi PAGEREF _Toc8656369 \h 5Camera Shot Position PAGEREF _Toc8656370 \h 6The image of Aylan Kurdi as captured by Nilufer Demir PAGEREF _Toc8656371 \h 6Facial Expression of Refugees PAGEREF _Toc8656372 \h 8Presence of other Actors PAGEREF _Toc8656373 \h 10Dominant Frame PAGEREF _Toc8656374 \h 11Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc8656375 \h 12References PAGEREF _Toc8656376 \h 13
Introduction
On 2nd September 2015, the world woke up to the image of a small boy lying face down, his tiny body washed to the beach of a Turkish island. The image by a Turkish journalist Nilufer Demir immediately went viral and was taken up by global news networks such as CNN International, local newspapers, and tabloids (Bozdag and Smets, 2017). Aylan Kurdi and his family were fleeing the Syrian political crisis to the safety of Europe, just like many Syrians escaping from war and persecution. However, his boat capsized and they drowned in the Mediterranean. As if on a mission to bring out the harrowing status of refugees and prick the conscience of the world, the waves washed the tiny body to the shore. Photojournalist Demir was handy to provide the image that would change the world and especially Europe’s perception of refugees from the common narrative of threat and othering to cosmopolitanism.
This paper will analyze the representation of refugees in journalism through the image of Aylan Kurdi as published across all newspapers and tabloids. In doing so, the paper will employ several variables proposed by Zhang and Hellmueller (2017) including camera shot position to help understand the details of the subject or object, relationship between subjects, and the broader context of the subject. The second variable is the facial expression of refugees, which will examine the recognizable emotions portrayed in the image and other aspects such as gender and age. Thirdly, the paper will analyze the image for presence of other players or actors on the image. Lastly, the paper will examine the variable of dominant frame in the image, which entails an analysis of the overt and covert features and accentuation of certain aspects. The paper argues that the visual representation of Aylan Kurdi is different from the typically characterization of refugees because of his age, solitariness, status, and the cosmopolitanism of the image.
Context
Civil wars, political conflicts, and deprivation are forcing many people to flee their homeland in search of safety and satisfaction of other needs. The United Nation estimates that nearly 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes and countries (Chouliaraki & Zaborowski, 2017). The places affected by unrests and other situations that force people to move away from their homeland are mainly in Asia, Africa, and South and Latin America, with tiny pockets in Europe also experiencing displacement. Europe and the United States provide the desired destination for refugees because of their longtime political stability and economic prosperity. Europe’s proximity to areas of civil unrests and economic deprivation makes it an enticing destination for refugees from Asia and Africa.
Providing asylum for refugees is a subject that has elicited sharp and divisive debate in Europe and the United States especially with the Syrian crisis that has increased the inflow of refugees into Europe. Political leaders and citizens have expressed diverse opinion on whether their countries should accept more refugees. Germany has been more receptive of refugees from Syria and has taken up 42% of the Syrian refugee (Caviedes, 2015). The United Kingdom has however refused entry of refugees to their country, adamantly refusing to accept the quota system that provided a method for allocating the number of refugees to each member of the European Union. The Brexit Leave campaign particularly capitalized on the influx of refugees in Europe, warning the British citizens that continued stay in the European Union would see immigrants 

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