Representation in a globalizing world
In the past year, more than 3400 people have died in the Mediterranean, fleeing war and poverty in a desperate bid to make a new life in Europe. At the same time, anti-immigration parties surged across the continent. Journalists face a dilemma in such settings. How is cultural diversity to be acknowledged and a range of views and fears to be represented, without falling back on stereotypes? In Sweden, which has opened its doors to more refugees per capita than any other European country, mosques have been set alight, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats Party has gained popular support and influence, and a public debate rages over Swedish values and immigration policy. The debate sheds light on the role played by the media in identity-formation and maintenance. The day after the Charlie Hebdo murders, and editorial in Dagens Nyheter declared: yes, it is us against them. Not ‘the West’ against ‘Islam’, as so many claim, but ‘we who believe in pluralism, in many religions, in many truths, in many opinions that can be met in open debate’ and who stand in opposition to ‘them’ – those who want to lock up cultures rather than see a flow of people, goods and ideas across borders.
Main picture: Rescue operation off the Canary Islands. Wikimedia Commons.