Writing With Light: An Iconographic-Iconologic Approach to Refugee Photography

Caroline Lenette


Refugee photography is often used to convey situations of precariousness and urgency, as visibility can help raise awareness and elicit empathy. Critical perspectives in relation to photographic representations can provide more nuanced understandings of refugee lived experiences over time. This article uses the iconographic-iconologic image framework as a process to understand how refugee lived experiences were represented in four photographs from a refugee library collection. These photographs depict different refugee situations from some 20 to 35 years ago.

As a refugee studies scholar interested in visual-based research, I wished to analyze how refugee lived experiences were represented through these photographs from another era. The application of the iconographic-iconologic image framework suggests various themes evoked through these photographs, which still have currency in today's highly polemic discourses on the global refugee regime and are still prominent in present-day discourses and contemporary refugee literature. This qualitative analysis shows the potential of photographs to highlight how precarious refugee situations persist over time despite intense international efforts in this field.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs160287


refugee photography; iconographic-iconologic framework; refugee discourses; visual representations

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-17.2.2436

Copyright (c) 2016 Caroline Lenette

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.