Mapping Europe’s Attitudes Towards Refugees in Political Cartoons through CMT and CMA

By: Roula Kitsiou and Maria Papadopoulou


Volume: 07
Issue: 02:2021
ISSN: 2459-2943
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2021.2021
Pages: 151-174
Lic.: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Political cartoons
Refugee crisis
Conceptual Metaphor Theory
Critical Metaphor Analysis



Perceiving the ‘refugee crisis’ as a construct shaped, among others, by contemporary political cartooning, we examine how cartoonists have represented European attitudes towards refugees by focusing on the metaphorical representation of ‘Europe’ and the ‘refugee.’ Specifically, we identify the conceptual metaphors used to depict Europe and refugees, and how political cartoons framed the ‘refugee crisis by applying Conceptual Metaphor Theory – CMT (cf. Lakoff and Johnson 1980) – and Critical Metaphor Analysis – CMA (cf. Charteris-Black 2004, Musolff 2012). Our analysis reveals that cartoonists re-frame the migration phenomenon according to the emphasis they put on: (a) Europe’s role in the Syrian conflict; (b) Europe’s policies concerning the reception of refugees in Europe; (c) the implications of Europe’s policies for refugees; (d) implications of receiving refugees for Europe; and (e) refugees’ expectations from Europe. Political cartoons thus serve as “perspectivisation devices” (Silaški 2012:216) that construct the ‘refugee crisis’ as ‘the Syrian refugee crisis,’ a ‘humanitarian crisis,’ a ‘crisis of European governance,’ and a ‘European identity crisis,’ reproducing dominant narratives around migration.


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