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The Rhetoric of the Refugee Crisis – Examples from the European Media

April 11, 2016 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

The current refugee crisis has become the focus of public debate in Europe. The immediate media coverage concentrated on the influx of migrants and on Europe’s logistical and political unpreparedness to receive them. But the crisis was also used as a rhetorical argument to support or oppose different governmental policies and to advocate or reject alternatives. Thus, the debate on migration spiked after the publication of the picture of 3-year old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned when attempting to cross from Turkey to Greece, and again after the New Year’s Eve incidents in Cologne. These spikes illuminated the sensitivities of the European audiences, but had little to do with larger causes and implications of the refugee crisis. This talk will address the shortcomings of the current public debate. Further, it will look at the missed opportunities to build on the knowledge and experience gained during Europe’s previous refugee crisis two decades ago, when hundreds of thousands of people fled the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Konstanty Gebert is an associate policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a journalist for Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s biggest daily. He was a democratic opposition activist in the 1970s and also an organizer of the Jewish Flying University, an underground group that met in secret to study and discuss Judaism and Jewish culture. The university was disbanded after martial law was declared in 1981 and Konstanty spent the subsequent decade working as an underground journalist. He has written more than ten books on subjects such as the Polish democratic transformation, French policy toward Poland, the Yugoslav wars, and post-war Polish Jewry. His essays have appeared in two dozen collections both in Poland and abroad, and his articles have been published by newspapers around the world. He has taught in Poland, Israel, and the United States.

Free parking available after 5 PM in Swain Lot – Click here for directions. Paid hourly parking available on Rosemary and Franklin Streets.


April 11, 2016
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


Hyde Hall
UNC-Chapel Hill + Google Map