Pictures Speak Louder Than Words: The Impact of Photography on Perceptions of Refugees

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, PI of Refugee Hosts, will be contributing to a side event of the 69th meeting of the UNHCR Standing Committee. The event will be moderated by Ms. Shahrzad Tadjbakhsh, Deputy Director, Division of International Protection, UNHCR

Thursday, 29 June 2017, 13:15 – 15:00 Palais des Nations – Room XXIV

Journalists and photographers around the world document the daily realities of flight. Views expressed in articles can trigger controversy, but messages conveyed through photos and films are often less scrutinized. This side event will explore the role that images play in the public discourse on the global refugee crisis and aims to complement the exhibition, “There are no walls in between us” by Mark Henley and Hospice Général in Geneva, which is being held in building E (1st floor), with the support of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations at Geneva. How do images have an impact on our understanding of the current crisis? Are they conducive to creating welcoming environments, or do they unwittingly fuel discrimination and xenophobia? How can journalists and others stakeholders develop greater awareness and appreciation of the messages they transmit through photos?

Dr Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, PI of the Refugee Hosts project, will be responding to these questions alongside an expert panel of artists and practitioners:

  • Mr. Christophe Girod, Director General, Hospice Général in Geneva
  • Dr. Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Co-Director, Migration Research Unit and Coordinator for “Refuge in a Moving World” research network, University College London
  • Mr. Mark Henley, Photographer and winner of the Swiss Press Photo 2012 & 2014
  • Ms. Isabelle Gattiker, Director, International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights

The event, which is being organised as part of the 69th meeting of the UNHCR steering committee in Geneva on 29 June 2017, will tap into Elena’s previous work on representations of refugees, including representations by refugees. For further reading, see the following articles and blogs:

For some insights into Refugee Hosts’ approach to images and photographs, visit our photo galleries. One of our project’s aims is to move away from the use of photographs that typically capture either the exceptional suffering, or the exceptional resilience, of individual ‘ideal’ refugees. Instead, our focus is on capturing the everyday spaces in which displaced peoples live and encounter other refugees and members of diverse host communities. As the project develops we will continue to explore these themes with an eye to advancing academic and policy debates on the politics and ethics of photographing displaced peoples and communities.

Featured Image: (c) S. Maqusi 

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