Representing Childhood and Forced Migration: Narratives of Borders and Belonging in European Screen Content for Children
Keywords:migration, children, Europe, film, television, media, broadcast, race, borders
This article explores representations of childhood and forced migration within a selection of European screen content for and about children. Based on the findings of a research project that examined the intersections of children’s media, diversity, and forced migration in Europe (www.euroarabchildrensmedia.org), funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, the article highlights different ways in which ideas of borders and belonging are constructed and deconstructed in a selection of films and television programs that feature children with an immigration background. Drawing on ideas around the “politics of pity” (Boltanski; Chouliaraki), the analysis explores conditions under which narratives of otherness arise when it comes to representing forcibly displaced children within European-produced children’s screen media. It also examines screen media that destabilize borders of “us” and “the other” by emphasizing the agency of children from migration backgrounds and revealing both the similarities and the differences between European children with immigration backgrounds and White European-born children. It is argued here that these representations destabilize narratives of borders and otherness, suggesting that children with a family history of immigration “belong” to European societies in the same ways as White European-born children.