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‘Performative refugeeness’: voice, recognition, and participation in creative mediation

Sharp, Robert James Leon (2022) ‘Performative refugeeness’: voice, recognition, and participation in creative mediation. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004574


This thesis is focused on the ways in which refugees express their voices in the context of participatory creative projects in the UK. Its major contribution is an expansion of theories of voice, through the possibilities voice presents in the context of such creative mediation. Through its engagement with refugee creative, mediated self-representations, the thesis reflects on and expands normative theorisations of voice, recognition and participation. While voice has been widely discussed within media and communications scholarship, refugees have remained marginal in many of the debates around the concept. But refugees both raise questions about the politics of self-representation and reveal the complex fluidity between what it means to have, and not have, voice. Refugees are ordinarily excluded from the mainstream; at the same time, they regularly initiate rights claims and bids for asylum, thus seeking democratic inclusion. Given the wholesale exclusion of refugee voices from normative publics, despite the normative democratic arguments against this, I argue that conceptualisations of voice in liberal democratic systems need to go beyond rational-critical definitions that are centred on the individual rights of citizens; further, that voice should be considered more widely as performative, relational, creative as well as a mediated expression of being and becoming a refugee. My argument is that opportunities to understand voices within and beyond the norms of liberal democratic participation—voices which are also messy, collective, or interrupted, for example—are worthy of consideration. This study will examine such voices by tracing different formations of refugee voices in publicness; that is, in and as processes of becoming public locally, regionally, and nationally. I argue that creative refugee mediation, an umbrella term encompassing all participatory creative practices within institutional community spaces, is a possible outlet or promise for refugee voice—through what I refer to as ‘performative refugeeness’. Using a multimethod approach of participant observation and participatory creative mediation workshops with refugee communities at two sites in the UK—Cardiff in Wales and Tyneside in North East England—I explore the facilitation and regulation of refugee voice, recognition and participation across different forms of publicness through such creative mediation processes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Robert James Leon Sharp
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Georgiou, Myria and Orgad, Shani

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