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Session Chair: Dario Padovan, University of Torino
Location:PC.3.16 PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences
136 Syggrou Avenue
17671 Athens, Greece
Building: C, Level: 3.
Relief through demonization – The discursive purpose of Israel bashing in Europe’s web community
Matthias Jakob Becker
Technical University Berlin, Germany
The phenomenon of antisemitism has always been transferred in various shapes. Especially on the Internet, antisemitism in the shape of hostility against the Jewish state is spreading on a large scale.
In my PhD thesis, I am analyzing antisemitism expressed in readers’ comments on British and German media websites related to the Mideast conflict. The Guardian and Die Zeit, two left-liberal newspapers, provide the data of my linguistic analysis. Readers of these journals mainly align themselves with the respective political position. Despite their humanistic and democratic positions, implicitly uttered antisemitism can easily be found within the readers’ comments.
What my research also reveals is that the discourse on the Mideast conflict shows a significant function of relieving the collective consciousness from committed injustices in European history. Relativizing such chapters, the legitimacy of identifying with one’s own nation can be (re-)established.
In Germany, also politically moderate web users often draw analogies between Israel and Nazi Germany. Through the discursive construction of a Nazi-like regime in the Mideast, the uniqueness of that period of German history seems to fade.
Interestingly, comparing Israel to European atrocities is a phenomenon to be found also in the UK. In British discourse, web users present Israel’s policies as reminiscent of British colonialism.
Through providing an overview of nowadays’ most representative forms of such argumentation through a linguistic set of tools, my work aims at examining the characteristics of European debates on Israel. Different historical backgrounds guide to divergent narratives that determine taboos and tendencies of language use.
Closeness and Distance in Media Reports on the Trollhättan Attack
Lund University, Sweden
The paper explores the Swedish media reporting on the Trollhättan school attack, in which a pupil and two staff of the school were killed and another pupil injured by a young man. The day after the attack the police declared that the attack was a hate crime since the victims had been selected because of their skin colour. I am interested in the first 24 hours after the attack—the time from when the news about the attack breaks until the moment that a hegemonic knowledge about the attack is established—and claim that the media played here a special role in installing frames, through which the audience could look at the event. Drawing on Judith Butler’s theory of frames and Lilie Chouliaraki’s theories of media discourses as construing sufferings as being worthy or not of spectators’ pity, I identify three different frames installed by the media in this time: of the compassionate spectatorship, of threatening suburb and of a racist act. I analyse these frames and explore the possibilities they offer for audiences in terms of establishing closeness or distance to the suffering other.
Managing anti-Semitism in early postwar Germany – a content analysis of the press coverage of the 1959/60 ‘swastika epidemic’
From late December 1959 to 1960 over 400 incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti, insults, and threats were recorded in Germany following the smearing of the Cologne Synagogue. This so-called “swastika epidemic” created massive media attention and is often considered the start-ing point of public discourse about anti-Semitism in postwar Germany (Bergmann 1990). Some even see it as a prime example of a critical examination of German anti-Semitism and the Nazi-past (Kittel 1993).
However, on closer inspection the media discourse regarding the “swastika epidemic” reveals a more ambiguous picture. We conducted a qualitative content analysis of media coverage in seven major German newspapers and tabloids (n = 308 Articles, December 28th – February 27th). We find that media discourse is strongly influenced by arguments aimed at the mitiga-tion and denial of anti-Semitism. In fact, only 9% of the analyzed articles deal with anti-Semitism as a social issue in its own right. About 45% of the coverage is instead concerned with identifying marginal groups of perpetrators (e.g. neo-Nazis, “rowdies”) and specifying immediate response measures (e.g. political education, rigorous policing). Although historical education does play a central role in the debate, it also seems strongly oriented towards tem-poral, social and spatial deflections of antisemitism (Nelson 2013).
The presentation will focus on different strategies of ‘managing’ the anti-Semitic wave as a problem that could neither be fully evaded nor fully recognized. Chief among these deflective strategies are:
- Defining narrow perpetrator-groups to contain the problem and safely assign responsi-bility
- Devising theories of instigation or conspiracy by soviet and/or right-wing organizations
- Re-framing the issue by claiming that anti-anti-Semitic critiques are used to discredit Germany in the international arena
Racist murders as a discursive event?
Georg Barthel, Helena Flam
University of Leipzig, Germany
Discourses about migrants affect the identity and
the ethnic relations of a society. Discursive events may result in discursive
shifts that modify this identity and ethnic relations. This occurred a few years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence by five racists in London in 1993. In the so-called Lawrence case, several factors led to a “mediatized public crisis that unleashed institutional reflexivity, social reforms and cultural change” (Scottle
2005: 51). The Lawrence-case will be compared to a German case. Between
2000 and 2006 a group of Neo-Nazis calling itself the National Socialist Unterground killed nine migrants and exploded bombs in ethnic neighborhoods in different German cities. The reporting of three different German national presses between 2011 and 2016 will be analyzed to see whether the NSU killings resulted in discursive changes on the topic of racism and the status of migrants in Germany. What happened after the initial outpouring of moral outrage? The presentation will highlight typical
argumentation patterns which emerged in 2011 to explain the NSU as a
phenomenon. It will then report on whether or not these changed by 2016.