23 May 2015
Today the Asean region is confronted with the challenge of coping with Rohingya who have taken to the seas to seek a safer life elsewhere. At the same time, the European Union is forced to deal with the phenomenon of Africans fleeing their continent to seek a better life in Europe.
In both these cases, the refugees concerned have been portrayed as vulnerable, homeless people who present a challenge to other countries that have become the destinations for them.
For reasons that I will elaborate on, I find this depiction of the Other as the “vulnerable victim” problematic; and I would argue that at this critical juncture we need to seriously interrogate the very language that we use to describe and understand such crises.
Let us be honest from the start and call a spade a spade: The crises in North Africa and Myanmar are not natural disasters to begin with.
… The writer is associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
GPO / Online / Print
Last updated on 18/11/2015