Hate Speech / Media

Online Hate Speech & Media Representation on Migrants / Refugees.

This panel establishes a dialogue between two on-going projects on (social) media analysis

1 – Online Hate Speech

With the swift, worldwide rise in Internet usage, troublesome offline behaviour quickly entered the online arena. Attitudes of intolerance and prejudice, together with various signs of discrimination and persecution, soon appeared on the Web, spreading toxic content and inciting criminal behaviour. Every sociological variable, from ethnicity to gender, from age to class, is under attack, at the same time as all forms of identity – be they sexual, religious, ideological, political or physical – become easy prey to those who deem themselves superior. Side by side with scattered, individualized bullying, flaming, and trolling, hate speech has also found a new, gigantic, platform of dissemination and contamination. No minority group and no socially vulnerable community is safe.

At a time when populations in the Middle East and Africa face tremendous challenges, including terrorism and civil war, many are often forced to leave everything behind in search of safety and survival. Not surprisingly, the online Western media, prone as it is to adopting the fluctuations and inconsistencies of mainstream news agencies, also gives voice to a plethora of haters, who thrive in the open, often unmoderated comment boards of online newspapers.

This panel welcomes contributions that address the linguistic forms and structures, as well as the pragmatic mechanisms and strategies, of online hate speech against migrants in today’s Europe. What patterns do these discourse samples exhibit? What regularities can we find in the way haters express themselves? What speech acts do they perform, what presuppositions do they carry, what tropes, or idioms, or lexical conventions, do they resort to? In short, how does language code, and vent, intolerance to the Alien Other?

Coord.: Isabel Ermida (EHum2M) PI & Idalete Dias (GHD) co-PI of NETLang,
FCT project The Language of Cyberbullying: Forms and Mechanisms of Online Prejudice and Discrimination in Annotated Comparable Corpora of Portuguese and English

2 – Media Representation

This project sets out to critically examine media representations on migrants, refugees and ‘internal Others’ in Portugal and across Europe while mapping out their interconnections with particular narratives in the field of security and within the War on Terror. Its focus on Portugal in the light of other European cases affected by terrorist threats (Russia and France) and by migrant/refugee flows (Italy and Germany) aims to explore the construction of transnational narratives of risk pervading Europe regardless of the ‘differential’ exposure to them. It will specifically analyze:

a) How do media represent migrants, refugees and ‘internal Others’ within a political context of War on Terror and securitization?
b) Do they (re)produce narratives of moral panic and securitization through specific constructions of Otherness? If so, what is the role of constructions of gender, race, age and religion?
c) Do they instead convey representations that may promote an ontology of peace and solidarity?

The project’s epistemological approach is based on the constitutive role of discourses, namely the ways in which particular understandings and myths are mobilized, intentionally or unintentionally, by specific actors and how these discourses shape particular perceptions and practices of security. The focus is on the discursive and ontological preconditions that allow/hinder political change.

Coord.: Sílvia Roque, co-PI of DeOthering, POCI-FCT Project Deconstructing Risk and Otherness: hegemonic scripts and counter-narratives on migrants/refugees and ‘internal Others’ in Portuguese and European mediascapes