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The images speak for themselves? Reading refugee coffee‐table books

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The practice of collecting photographs of refugees in ‘coffee‐table books' is a practice of framing and thus inflecting the meanings of those images. The ‘refugee coffee‐table books' discussed here each approach their topic with a particular style and emphasis. Nonetheless, while some individual images offer productive readings which challenge stereotypes of refugees, the format of the collections and the accompanying written text work to produce spectacle rather than empathy in that they implicitly propagate a world view divided along imperialist lines, in which the audience is expected to occupy the position of privileged viewing agent while refugees are positioned as viewed objects.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-04-01

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