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Susanne Eichner

Screening migration. European television drama series and female agency

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Currently, the so-called “refugee crisis” has significantly influenced European politics and people’s worldviews. We are nowadays faced with new populistic, xenophobic tendencies that challenge and transform our sense of citizenship and democracy (e.g. Fitzi, Mackert & Turner 2019). This discourse has been constantly been picked up and negotiated by news (e.g. Jacobs, Meeusen & d’Haenens 2016), film (e.g. Loshitzky 2010, Hagener 2018), or documentaries (e.g. Kuo 2010). Yet it has also permeated television fiction without raising equal scholarly attention Lately, several European (mainly public broadcasters) productions have picked up the topic explicitly, so the Italian production Lampedusa (2016), the German children’s series Dschermeni (2017) or the French-German co-production Eden (2019), giving refugees a voice. This voice has, however, been largely neglected in popular European television drama. This paper considers the asymmetry of representations of European citizens as agents on the one hand and refugees on the other. By taking the example of Danish drama series, it investigates into television’s fictional engagement with the refugee crises at the intersectionality of gender and ethnicity in narrative agency. More specifically, the paper focuses on strong female lead character and the representation of female refugees and the late refugee crisis in Danish television drama. It explores the asymmetry between first: the representation of female ethnic Danes as empowered agents on one hand (Eichner forthcoming, Povlsen 2011), and women of other ethnicity as victims on the other. Secondly between topics that are considered as socially relevant vs. the absence of topics such as the refugee crisis in Danish television drama. Within the broader scope of transnationalism and European identity this paper touches upon discourses of feminism, whiteness studies, center and periphery, and geopolitical television drama employing analysis of long running Scandinavian TV series (The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge, Below the Surface, Warrior).
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2019
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019
EventNECS 2019: Structures and Voices: Storytelling in Post-Digital Times - University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland
Duration: 13 Jun 201915 Jun 2019


ConferenceNECS 2019: Structures and Voices: Storytelling in Post-Digital Times
LocationUniversity of Gdańsk
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