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Images, emotions, and international politics: the death of Alan Kurdi

  • Rebecca Adler-Nissen (a1), Katrine Emilie Andersen (a2) and Lene Hansen (a3)

Abstract

How are images, emotions, and international politics connected? This article develops a theoretical framework contributing to visuality and emotions research in International Relations. Correcting the understanding that images cause particular emotional responses, this article claims that emotionally laden responses to images should be seen as performed in foreign policy discourses. We theorise images as objects of interpretation and contestation, and emotions as socially constituted rather than as individual ‘inner states’. Emotional bundling – the coupling of different emotions in discourse – helps constitute political subjectivities that both politicise and depoliticise. Through emotional bundling political leaders express their experiences of feelings shared by all humans, and simultaneously articulate themselves in authoritative and gendered subject positions such as ‘the father’. We illustrate the value of our framework by analysing the photographs of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian-Kurdish boy who drowned in September 2015. ‘Kurdi’ became an instant global icon of the Syrian refugee crisis. World leaders expressed their personal grief and determination to act, but within a year, policies adopted with direct reference to Kurdi's tragic death changed from an open-door approach to attempts to stop refugees from arriving. A discursive-performative approach opens up new avenues for research on visuality, emotionality, and world politics.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: lha@ifs.ku.dk

References

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1 The boy's name was first reported as Aylan. The correct, Kurdish transcription however is Alan.

2 Vis, Farida, ‘Examining the hundred most shared images of Aylan Kurdi on Twitter’, in Vis, Farida and Goriunova, Olga (eds), The Iconic Image on Social Media: A Rapid Research Response to the Death of Aylan Kurdi (Sheffield, UK: Visual Social Media Lab, 2015), p. 27.

3 Francesco D'Orazio, ‘Journey of an image: From a beach in Bodrum to twenty million screens across the world’, in Vis and Goriunova (eds), The Iconic Image on Social Media, p. 11.

4 Ticktin, Miriam, ‘A world without innocence’, American Ethnologist, 44:4 (2017), p. 577; Schlag, Gabi, ‘Moving images and the politics of pity: a multilevel approach to the interpretation of images and emotions’, in Clément, Maéva and Sangar, Eric (eds), Researching Emotions in International Relations (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 209–30.

5 Matt Dathan, ‘Aylan Kurdi: David Cameron says he felt “deeply moved” by images of dead Syrian boy but gives no details of plans to take in more refugees’, The Independent (3 September 2015), available at: {http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/aylan-kurdi-david-cameron-says-he-felt-deeply-moved-by-images-of-dead-syrian-boy-but-gives-no-10484641.html} accessed 19 December 2018.

6 Slovic, Paul et al. , ‘Iconic photographs and the ebb and flow of empathic response to humanitarian disasters’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114:4 (2017), pp. 640–44; HBerents, elen, ‘Apprehending the “telegenic dead”: Considering images of dead children in global politics’, International Political Sociology, 13:2 (2019), p. 11.

7 Slovic et al., ‘Iconic photographs’, p. 641.

8 Ibid.; Smith, Laura G. E. et al. , ‘After Aylan Kurdi: How tweeting about death, threat, and harm predict increased expressions of solidarity with refugees over time’, Psychological Science, 29:4 (2018), pp. 623–34; Prøitz, Lin, ‘Visual social media and affectivity: the impact of the image of Alan Kurdi and young people's response to the refugee crisis in Oslo and Sheffield’, Information, Communication and Society, 21:4 (2018), pp. 548–63.

9 Maricut, Adina, ‘Different narratives, one area without internal frontiers: why EU institutions cannot agree on the refugee crisis’, National Identities, 19:2 (2017), pp. 161–77; Bleiker, Roland, Visual Global Politics (London: Routledge, 2018), p. 19.

10 We use ‘Kurdi’ to refer to the iconic photographs and Kurdi when referring to accounts and news stories about Alan Kurdi and his family.

11 Schlag, ‘Moving images and the politics of pity’ is a partial exception.

12 Hutchison, Emma, Affective Communities in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Fierke, Karin M., Political Self-Sacrifice: Agency, Body and Emotion in International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013). We contribute in particular to the research agenda on discourse and emotion laid out in The Forum: Discourse and emotions in International Relations’, International Studies Review, 19:3 (2017), pp. 481508. As Simon Koschut holds in his introduction ‘there has been strikingly little elaboration of appropriate methods and criteria for studying emotion discourse’. Koschut, Simon, ‘Introduction to discourse and emotions in International Relations’, International Studies Review, 19:3 (2017), p. 482. We speak to this lacuna in research on emotions while incorporating the visual dimension not addressed by this Forum.

13 Bleiker, Roland and Kay, Amy, ‘Representing HIV/AIDS in Africa: Pluralist photography and local empowerment’, International Studies Quarterly, 51:1 (2007), pp. 139–63.

14 Ticktin, ‘A world without innocence’, p. 577; Burman, Erica, ‘Innocents abroad: Western fantasies of childhood and the iconography of emergencies’, Disasters, 18:3 (1994); Manzo, Kate, ‘Imagining humanitarianism: NGO identity and the iconography of childhood’, Antipode, 40:4 (2008), pp. 632–57; and Berents, ‘Apprehending the “telegenic dead”’.

15 Barthes, Roland, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981).

16 Bleiker, Roland, ‘Pluralist methods for visual global politics’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 43:3 (2015), p. 876; Hansen, Lene, ‘Theorizing the image for security studies: Visual securitization and the Muhammad Cartoon Crisis’, European Journal of International Relations, 17:1 (2011), pp. 5174.

17 Bleiker, Roland and Hutchison, Emma, ‘Fear no more: Emotions and world politics’, Review of International Studies, 34 (2008), pp. 115–35; Hall, Todd and Ross, Andrew, ‘Affective politics after 9/11’, International Organization, 69:4 (2015), p. 857; Hutchison, Affective Communities in World Politics.

18 Hall, Todd, ‘Sympathetic states: Explaining the Russian and Chinese responses to September 11’, Political Science Quarterly, 127:3 (2012), p. 371; see also Bleiker and Hutchison, ‘Fear no more’, p. 131.

19 Hutchison, Affective Communities in World Politics, p. 209.

20 Bleiker, Roland, Aesthetics and World Politics (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Williams, Michael C., ‘Words, images, enemies: Securitization and international politics’, International Studies Quarterly, 47:4 (2003), pp. 511–31; Williams, Michael C., ‘International Relations in the age of the image’, International Studies Quarterly, 62:4 (2018), pp. 880–91.

21 Hansen, ‘Theorizing the image for security studies’.

22 Hutchison, Affective Communities in World Politics.

23 Bleiker, Roland et al. , ‘The visual dehumanisation of refugees’, Australian Journal of Political Science, 48:4 (2013), pp. 398416; Gartner, Scott Sigmund, ‘On behalf of a grateful nation: Conventionalized images of loss and individual opinion change in war’, International Studies Quarterly, 55:2 (2011), pp. 545–61; Gartner, Scott Sigmund and Gelpi, Christopher F., ‘The affect and effect of images of war on individual opinion and emotions’, International Interactions, 42:1 (2016), pp. 172–88.

24 Bleiker et al., ‘The visual dehumanisation of refugees’.

25 For an overview of how emotions relate to level-of-analysis debates in IR, see Mercer, Jonathan, ‘Human nature and the first image: Emotion in international politics’, Journal of International Relations and Development, 9:3 (2016), pp. 288303.

26 Ross, Andrew A. G., Mixed Emotions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), p. 20.

27 Constance Duncombe, ‘The politics of Twitter: Emotions and the power of social media’, International Political Sociology, Online First (2019), pp. 1–21.

28 Crawford, Neta C., ‘The passion of world politics: Propositions on emotion and emotional relationships’, International Security, 24:4 (2000), p. 125.

29 Hansen, Lene, Security as Practice: Discourse Analysis and the Bosnian War (London: Routledge, 2006), p. 23.

30 Barthes, Roland, Image, Music, Text (Glasgow: Fontana, 1977), p. 39.

31 Ibid., pp. 17–19.

32 Ticktin, ‘A world without innocence’; Sturken, Marita and Cartwright, Lisa, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture (2nd edn, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 3946.

33 Barthes, Image, Music, Text, p. 39.

34 Hansen, Security as Practice, p. 26; Bleiker, ‘Pluralist methods for visual global politics’, p. 885.

35 Hutchison, Emma and Bleiker, Roland, ‘Emotions, discourse and power in world politics’, International Studies Review, 19:3 (2017), pp. 501–05.

36 ‘100 photos: the death of Neda’, Time Magazine (2009), available at: {http://100photos.time.com/photos/death-of-neda} accessed 19 December 2018.

37 It might become analytically interesting however if questions of sincerity are raised within a political debate. Fierke, Political Self-Sacrifice.

38 Hariman, Robert and Lucaites, John L., No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), p. 175.

39 Butler, Judith, ‘Torture and the ethics of photography’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 25:6 (2007), pp. 951–66.

40 Hutchison, Affective Communities in World Politics.

41 On methods and emotions, see also Roland Bleiker and Emma Hutchison, ‘Methods and methodologies for the study of emotions in world politics’, in Clément and Sangar (eds), Researching Emotions in International Relations, pp. 325–42.; Schlag, ‘Moving images and the politics of pity’.

42 Koschut, ‘Introduction to discourse and emotions’, p. 483.

43 Bleiker and Kay, ‘Representing HIV/AIDS in Africa’.

44 Ibid., p. 150.

45 Ibid., p. 149.

46 Ross, Mixed Emotions, p. 1.

47 Hansen, Lene, ‘How images make world politics: International icons and the case of Abu Ghraib’, Review of International Relations, 41:2 (2016), pp. 271–2; see also Campbell, David, ‘Atrocity, memory, photography: Imaging the concentration camps of Bosnia – the case of ITN versus Living Marxism, Part 1’, Journal of Human Rights, 1:1 (2002), for an analysis of the photograph of emaciated prisoner Fikret Alic from August 1992 as ‘an instant icon of the Bosnian war’.

48 Burman, ‘Innocents abroad’; Manzo, ‘Imagining humanitarianism’; Berents, ‘Apprehending the “telegenic dead”’; Moeller, Susan, ‘A hierarchy of innocence: the media's use of children in the telling of international news’, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 7:1 (2002), pp. 3656; Ticktin, ‘A world without innocence’.

49 Kasbekar, Sushama, ‘Photojournalism: Journalistic reality and necessity’, IRA International Journal of Education and Multidisciplinary Studies, 3:1 (2016), p. 98; Berents, ‘Apprehending the “telegenic dead”’, p. 2.

50 Anne Barnard, ‘Boys drawn to Gaza beach, and into center of Mideast strife’, The New York Times (16 July 2014), available at: {https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/world/middleeast/gaza-strip-beach-explosion-kills-children.html} accessed 18 December 2018. For an analysis of the photographs, see Berents, ‘Apprehending the “telegenic dead”’.

51 The boat capsized the night between 1 and 2 September, and the pictures were sent and emailed to Bouckaert the same morning. On Twitter and international politics, see Duncombe, Constance, ‘Twitter and transformative diplomacy: Social media and Iran–US relations’, International Affairs, 93:3 (2017), pp. 545–62.

52 Peter Bouckaert, Twitter post (4:29 AM, 2 September 2015), available at: {https://twitter.com/bouckap/status/639037338362978304/photo/1} accessed 18 December 2018.

53 For an introduction to the work of Althusser, see Laclau, Ernesto and Mouffe, Chantal, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (London: Verso, 1985); for an application of the concept of interpellation in IR, see Weldes, Jutta, Constructing National Interests: The United States and the Cuban Missile Crisis (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press: 1999), pp. 103–07.

54 Burman, ‘Innocents abroad’, p. 239.

55 Manzo, ‘Imagining humanitarianism’; Berents, ‘Apprehending the “telegenic dead”’, p. 4.

56 Burman, ‘Innocents abroad’.

57 Manzo, ‘Imagining humanitarianism’, p. 636.

58 Ibid., p. 636.

59 Moeller, ‘A hierarchy of innocence’, p. 38.

60 Berents, ‘Apprehending the “telegenic dead”’, p. 12.

61 Ibid., p. 4.

62 D'Orazio, ‘Journey of an image’, p. 12.

63 For a more detailed account of how the images were shared on social media, see Vis and Goriunova (eds), The Iconic Image on Social Media; Mortensen, Mette, ‘Constructing, confirming, and contesting icons: the Alan Kurdi imagery appropriated by #humanitywashedashore, Ai Weiwei, and Charlie Hebdo’, Media, Culture and Society, 39:8 (2017); Olesen, Thomas, ‘Memetic protest and the dramatic diffusion of Alan Kurdi’, Media, Culture and Society, 40:5 (2018), pp. 656–72; and Durham, Meenakshi Gigi, ‘Resignifying Alan Kurdi: News photographs, memes, and the ethics of embodied vulnerability’, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 35:3 (2018), pp. 240–58. Unfortunately, we do not have the space to go into a further theorisation of the relationship between social media, images, and emotions in this article. As one of our reviewers pointed out, social media produce global inequalities in terms of what gets circulated and how that is represented. We hope to be able to address this in detail in future work. See Berents, Helen, ‘Hashtagging girlhood: #IAmMalala, #BringBackOurGirls and gendering representations of global politics’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 18:4 (2016), pp. 513–27 for an analysis of social media campaigns and global inequality.

64 Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, ‘Chinese web users grieve for Syrian toddler – and blame America’, Foreign Policy (4 September 2015), available at: {https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/09/04/china-syria-migrant-crisis-photo-aylan-kurdi-democracy/} accessed 18 December 2018.

65 Stephen Eisenhammer, ‘Brazil president criticizes Europe over refugee crisis’, Reuters (5 September 2015), available at: {https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-brazil-idUSKCN0R42IE20150904} accessed 18 December 2018.

66 D'Orazio, ‘Journey of an image’, p. 18.

67 See, for example, Associated Press, ‘21 cartoons about dead child on beach who is haunting and frustrating the world’, The Malta Independent (4 September 2015), available at: {http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2015-09-04/world-news/21-cartoons-about-dead-child-on-beach-who-is-haunting-and-frustrating-the-world-6736141577}; ‘Artists create heartbreaking cartoons following drowned Syrian toddlers' deaths’, AsiaOne (5 September 2015), available at: {http://www.asiaone.com/world/artists-create-heartbreaking-cartoons-following-drowned-syrian-toddlers-deaths}; Rédaction du HuffPost avec AFP, ‘Aylan Kurdi: les dessinateurs s'emparent de la photo du petit Syrien’, The Huffington Post France (5 October 2015), available at: {https://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2015/09/03/aylan-kurdi-dessinateurs-syrien_n_8082480.html}; Fanny Hubert, ‘Cartoonists of the world commemorate the tragic death of Aylan Kurdi’, Konbini (4 September 2015), available at: http://www.konbini.com/us/inspiration/cartoonists-world-commemorate-tragic-death-aylan-kurdi/} accessed 18 December 2018.

68 Hariman and Lucaites, No Caption Needed.

69 Julija Nėjė, ‘Artists around the world respond to tragic death of 3-year-old Syrian refugee’, Bored Panda (n.d.), available at: {http://www.boredpanda.com/syrian-boy-drowned-mediterranean-tragedy-artists-respond-aylan-kurdi/} accessed 18 December 2018, emphasis added.

70 Mortensen, ‘Constructing, confirming, and contesting icons’, pp. 1148, 1151.

71 Ibid., pp. 1150, 1153; Chouliaraki, Lilie and Stolic, Tijana, ‘Rethinking media responsibility in the refugee “crisis”: a visual typology of European news’, Media, Culture and Society, 39:8 (2017), p. 1171; on the appropriation of the Kurdi photographs, see also Olesen, ‘Memetic protest and the dramatic diffusion of Alan Kurdi’, pp. 656–72; and Durham, ‘Resignifying Alan Kurdi’.

72 Mortensen, ‘Constructing, confirming, and contesting icons’; see also Olesen, ‘Memetic protest and the dramatic diffusion of Alan Kurdi’.

73 Schlag, ‘Moving images and the politics of pity’; Bleiker, Visual Global Politics, p. 19.

74 Durham, in ‘Resignifying Alan Kurdi’, discusses the differences between more political and more ‘sentimental’ appropriations of ‘Kurdi’.

75 Rowena Mason, ‘Farage attacks “soft Eurosceptics” over EU exit campaign’, The Guardian (25 September 2015), available at: {https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/25/farage-sideline-eu-exit-campaign-ukip-eurosceptics-cameron-europe} accessed 18 December 2018.

76 Lizzie Dierden, ‘The fake refugee images that are being used to distort public opinion on asylum seekers’, The Independent (16 September 2015), available at: {https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-fake-refugee-images-that-are-being-used-to-distort-public-opinion-on-asylum-seekers-10503703.html} accessed 18 December 2018.

77 Claire Phipps, ‘Refugee crisis briefing: Clashes in Lesbos, “open arms” in Brazil and dozens march to Sweden’, The Guardian (8 September 2015), available at: {https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/08/refugee-crisis-briefing-clashes-lesbos-open-arms-brazil-march-sweden} accessed 18 December 2018.

78 Michael Powell and Zia Weise, ‘Aylan and his father: their REAL story’, Mail on Sunday (13 September 2015), available at: {https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-scottish-mail-on-sunday/20150913/281960311534839} accessed 18 December 2018. The trial in Bodrum decided to drop these charges against Abdullah Kurdi in March 2016. Mail Foreign Service, ‘Court clears Aylan's father’, Daily Mail (12 February 2016).

79 Tim Hume, ‘Outrage over Charlie Hebdo cartoon of dead toddler Alan Kurdi as sex attacker’, CNN (14 January 2016), available at: {http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/14/europe/france-charlie-hebdo-aylan-kurdi/} accessed 20 December 2018.

80 Mortensen, ‘Constructing, confirming, and contesting icons’, p. 1157.

81 Adam Boult, ‘Charlie Hebdo criticised over “racist” cartoon portraying Aylan Kurdi as an adult sex pest’, The Telegraph (13 January 2016), available at: {http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12098437/Charlie-Hebdo-criticised-over-racist-cartoon-portraying-Aylan-Kurdi-as-an-adult-sex-pest.html}; Aziz Allilou, ‘Charlie Hebdo mocks the death of Syrian child Aylan Kurdi’, Morocco World News (13 September 2015), available at: {http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/09/167835/charlie-hebdo-mocks-the-death-of-syrian-child-aylan-kurdi/} accessed 18 December 2018.

82 Burman, ‘Innocents abroad’, p. 239.

83 The appropriation of ‘Kurdi’ by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in January 2016 was also criticised for turning the attention away from Alan Kurdi and towards the artist. Mortensen, ‘Constructing, confirming, and contesting icons’, p. 1155.

84 Daily Sabah with Agencies, ‘French president calls Erdoğan over images of drowned Syrian boy, calls for common EU refugee policy’, Daily Sabah (3 September 2015), available at: {http://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2015/09/03/french-president-calls-erdogan-over-images-of-drowned-syrian-boy-calls-for-common-eu-refugee-policy} accessed 19 December 2018.

85 Niklas Svensson, ‘Stefan Löfven om bilden på Aylan, 3’, Expressen (3 September 2015), available at: {http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/stefan-lofven-om-bilden-pa-aylan-3/} accessed 19 December 2018; House of Commons, Hansard 599 (9 September 2015); Canadian House of Commons, 42nd Parliament, 1st session (12 April 2016).

86 House of Commons, Hansard 599.

87 Lise Hand, ‘“A young boy … washed up on beach like driftwood” – Taoiseach describes migrant crisis as “human catastrophe”’, Independent.ie (3 September 2015), available at: {http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/a-young-boy-washed-up-on-beach-like-driftwood-taoiseach-describes-migrant-crisis-as-human-catastrophe-31500065.html} accessed 19 December 2018.

88 Daily Sabah with Agencies, ‘French President calls Erdoğan over images of drowned Syrian boy’.

89 Burman, ‘Innocents abroad’, p. 240.

90 Hand, ‘“A young boy … washed up on beach like driftwood”’.

91 House of Commons, Hansard 599.

92 Burman, ‘Innocents abroad’.

93 Elshtain, Jean Bethke, Women and War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987); Tickner, J. Ann, Gendering World Politics: Issues and Approaches in the post-Cold War Era (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).

94 Connell, R. W. and Messerschmidt, James W., ‘Hegemonic masculinity: Rethinking the concept’, Gender & Society, 19:6 (2005), p. 832; Wilcox, Lauren, ‘Practising gender, queering theory’, Review of International Studies, 43:5 (2017), pp. 789808.

95 Duncanson, Claire, ‘Forces for good? Narratives of military masculinity in peacekeeping operations’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 11:1 (2009), pp. 6380.

96 Philip Oltermann, ‘Mama Merkel: the compassionate “mother” of Syrian refugees’, The Guardian, available at: {https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2015/sep/01/mama-merkel-the-compassionate-mother-of-syrian-refugees?CMP=share_btn_tw} accessed 19 December 2018.

97 Federica Mogherini, official website, available at: {http://www.federicamogherini.net/?lang=en} accessed 1 July 2019.

98 Bleiker, Visual Global Politics, p. 19.

99 House of Commons, Hansard 599 (8 September 2015); see also Hansard 599 (9 September 2015).

100 Mary Jo Leddy, ‘Refugee issue now defines federal race’, The Toronto Star (16 September 2015).

101 ‘100 photos: Alan Kurdi’, Time Magazine (2016), available at: {http://100photos.time.com/photos/nilufer-demir-alan-kurdi} accessed 2 January 2017. See also Bleiker, Visual Global Politics, p. 19.

102 Daily Sabah with agencies, ‘French President calls Erdoğan over images of drowned Syrian boy’.

103 Bundesregierung, ‘Resolving the refugee problem at European level’, The Press and Information Office of the Federal Government (4 September 2015), available at: {https://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/EN/Artikel/2015/09_en/2015-09-04-fluechtlinge-gesamt_en.html} accessed 20 December 2018.

104 Kim Willsher, ‘Germany and France demand binding refugee quotas for EU members’, The Guardian (3 September 2015), available at: {https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/03/germany-france-eu-refugee-quotas-migration-crisis} accessed 20 December 2018.

105 The Canadian Press, ‘Tima Kurdi travels to Brussels to call for more help for Syrian refugees’, The Hamilton Spectator (14 September 2015), available at: {http://www.thespec.com/news-story/5842302-tima-kurdi-travels-to-brussels-to-call-for-more-help-for-syrian-refugees/} accessed 20 December 2018.

106 Sheldon Chad, ‘Aunt of drowned Syrian boy urges Europe to act now before more children die’, The Globe and Mail (15 September, 2015), available at: {http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/tima-kurdi-calls-on-europe-to-act-now-before-more-migrant-children-die/article26375621/} accessed 20 December 2018.

107 European Parliament, Debates (9 September 2015), available at: {http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/CRE-8-2015-09-09-ITM-006_EN.html?redirect} accessed 20 December 2018.

108 The emotional bundling through which the response to ‘Kurdi’ was constituted might have played a role in making such weak links possible. It would, however, require a longer analysis of European refugee and migration policy to determine all the factors – including emotional bundling – that might explain the policy decisions that were taken.

109 Guiraudon, Virginie, ‘The 2015 refugee crisis was not a turning point: Explaining policy inertia in EU border control’, European Political Science, 17:2 (2017), p. 157.

110 Kiersten Nelson, ‘The European Crisis: “There Cannot Be Humanity Without Firmness and Responsibility”’, Kennedy Center of International Studies (15 September 2015), available at: {https://kennedylive.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/the-european-crisis-there-cannot-be-humanity-without-firmness-and-responsibility/} accessed 20 December 2018.

111 Jennifer Rankin, ‘Turkey and EU agree outline of “one in, one out” deal over Syria refugee crisis’, The Guardian (8 March 2016), available at: {https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/08/european-leaders-agree-outlines-of-refugee-deal-with-turkey} accessed 20 December 2018.

112 Berza Simsek and Susan Fraser, ‘Rights group: EU should “rethink” Turkey refugee deal', Business Insider (23 April 2016), available at: {https://www.businessinsider.com/ap-rights-group-eu-should-rethink-turkey-refugee-deal-2016-4?r=US&IR=T&IR=T} last accessed 18 December 2018.

113 Berza Simsek, ‘Turkey hails “effective” migrant deal as EU leaders visit’, AP News (23 April 2016), available at: {https://apnews.com/3993402a62c742e492b1e3e9aa44c696} accessed 20 December 2018.

114 Jodi Kantor and Catrin Einhorn. ‘Refugees encounter a foreign word: Welcome’, The New York Times (3 July 2016), available at: {https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/01/world/americas/canada-syrian-refugees.html} accessed 20 December 2018. Former Canadian immigration minister Chris Alexander thinks Russian Internet trolls weaponised Alan Kurdi's image against the Federal Conservatives in the 2015 election. See {https://www.globalreport.ca/single-post/2019/07/27/Trump-turmoil-social-media-How-Russia-is-disrupting-the-West}. We thank Eric Van Rythoven for this point.

115 Jessica Murphy, ‘Trudeau greets Syrian refugees as Canada prepares for more arrivals’, The Guardian (11 December 2015), available at: {https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/11/canada-syrian-refugees-arrive-whitehorse-yukon} accessed 20 December 2018.

116 Gregory Krieg, ‘Christie on refugees: Not even 5-year-old orphans’, CNN (17 November 2015), available at: {http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/17/politics/chris-christie-paris-attacks-refugee-orphans/} accessed 3 July 2019.

117 Ray Sanchez, ‘After Paris attacks: France and U.S. struggle with Syrian refugee issue’, CNN (19 November 2015), available at: {http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/19/world/paris-attacks-us-france-refugees/} accessed 3 July 2019.

118 The Canadian Press, ‘Americans take notes on Canada's Syrian refugee response’, The Huffington Post (7 November 2016), available at: {http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/07/11/washington-canada-syrian-refugees_n_10933532.html} accessed 20 December 2018.

119 See {https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/video/tima-kurdi-speaks-about-refugees.html} accessed 5 July 2019. In June 2019, a photograph of a Salvadoran father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande in their attempt to cross into Texas, was headlined across the world and the UN refugee agency made comparisons with the photographs of ‘Kurdi’. See {https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/25/photo-drowned-migrant-daughter-rio-grande-us-mexico-border?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other} accessed 12 August 2019.

120 Berents, ‘Hashtagging girldhood’.

121 Dauphinee, Elizabeth, ‘The politics of the body in pain: Reading the ethics of imagery’, Security Dialogue, 38:2 (2007), pp. 139–55.

122 Adler-Nissen, Rebecca and Tsinovoi, Alexei, ‘International misrecognition: the politics of humour and national identity in Israel's public diplomacy’, European Journal of International Relations, 25:1 (2019), pp. 329.

Keywords

Images, emotions, and international politics: the death of Alan Kurdi

  • Rebecca Adler-Nissen (a1), Katrine Emilie Andersen (a2) and Lene Hansen (a3)

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