Gamers versus zombies? Visual mediation of the citizen/non-citizen encounter in Europe’s ‘refugee crisis’

Rafal Zaborowski, Myria Georgiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
93 Downloads (Pure)


This article identifies the visual representation of Europe’s “refugee crisis” in the media as a key dimension of the communicative architecture of the crisis and its aftermath. Effectively, it argues, the powerful, even iconic, imagery that the media produced and shared during the 2015 “crisis” affirmed ideological frames of incompatible difference, perpetually dividing European citizens and refugees. The article focuses on some of the fundamental elements of the 2015 crisis’s visual grammar to demonstrate how they have (re-)produced popular fears of strangeness and the need for containment and control of foreign bodies. This visual grammar, we argue, imitated and procreated recognizable representations of popular culture to exaggerate newcomers’ strangeness and incompatible difference from the national subject. On the one hand, many news media simulated zombies’ threatening strangeness in images of refugee massification; on the other, many news media images reaffirmed the decisive power of the national subject over refugees’ fate, not unlike the video game player who unilaterally controls a game and takes action when confronted by zombies. This grammar, we argue, symbolically predetermines encounters between citizens and refugees, by emphasizing their incompatible difference and newcomers’ strangeness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-108
Number of pages17
JournalPopular Communication. The international Journal of Media and Culture
Issue number2
Early online date6 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


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