The Brown Center invites you to our Faculty Spotlight on Thursday, April 1st at 12:00 PM on Blackboard Ultra. The spotlight series is a showcase of research, creative inquiry, and other scholarly engagement of the campus community. Stop by and learn about the research of our talented Stetson community! 

Dr. Jelena Petrovic – Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies

Department of Communication and Media Studies

Wishful humanitarianism from the edge of Europe: News coverage of 2015 European refugee crisis in Serbia

A glance at today’s news media in Europe would tell us that the 2015 refugee crisis has ended. According to the news reports, what is left of millions of people crossing sea and land in search of safe home are scattered groups of “economic,” “problematic,” “questionable” immigrants, who are now confined to reception centers with little to no possibility of actually getting asylum. The story that the media do not tell us, however, is the one about the repressive immigration policies that all but closed the doors of most of the European countries and removed the immigrants from public view. It is a story of the power of discourse to quickly shift the conversation from solidarity with the refugees to risk management, securitization, and hostility toward this group of migrants. This talk will shed light on the mechanisms that made this shift possible and meaningful in Serbia in 2015 as the crisis was rapidly escalating and turning into a humanitarian catastrophe. Specifically, I will discuss how the main discourses at the time created an image of Serbia as a “transition space” for the refugees on their journey to the EU, which in turn determined Serbia’s moral and political responsibility toward (incoming) refugees. The talk will bring together an analysis of news reports on the crisis, political propaganda, and actions of the public and NGOs at the time to tell the story of humanitarianism that could have been, but never were.

Jelena Petrovic (Ph.D., University of New Mexico) is an Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Stetson University. Her research focuses on news media discourses and their relevance for the representation of migration and national identities across diverse and international contexts. Petrovic is also the co-founder and co-director of the Community Education Project, Stetson’s higher education in prison program.