Beyond Polaroid: Visual Rhetoric in Shaping Refugee’s Identity


  • Donna John



Visual Rhetoric, Refugee Crisis, Symbolic Images, Identity.


Photographs tend to have an ability to influence the collective consciousness of humanity. Sonja K. Foss, a rhetorical educator, opines that language is general while images are concrete and specific. Many a time, photographs have become spokespersons of the suffering and needy lot. Throughout its history, photography has created opinions, constructed realities of people and brought human tragedies to the forefront. The refugee crisis is in no way an exception. In fact, the conscience of the whole world in regard to the refugees was awakened by an appalling photograph of a three-year-old Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi, lying face-down into the sand. Such photographs, often symbolic and termed as visual rhetoric, slowly turned into stereotypes defining the refugee crisis. This paper discusses on how these visual narratives have shaped the identity of refugees and created various regimes of seeing.


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Author Biography

Donna John

Assistant Professor on Contract

Morning Star Home Science College

Anagamaly, Kerala, India


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How to Cite

John, D. (2021). Beyond Polaroid: Visual Rhetoric in Shaping Refugee’s Identity. SMART MOVES JOURNAL IJELLH, 9(5), 221–228.