Migrant Seascapes: Visualised Spaces of Political Exclusion

Lila Lee-Morrison

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


News images have played a defining role in the unfolding narratives of what has become known as the European migration crisis. Throughout the coverage of the crisis, a predominant and enduring image has been of photographs documenting the migrant journey by sea. This paper takes a closer look at these images, as a vehicle which shifts the narrative of the crisis as one defined by a territorial and political exclusion of the migrant. This analysis positions these images within an art historical context, wherein the motif of seascapes has articulated particular modes of political exclusion. I will analyze two examples of images of migrants at sea and relate these with two iconic seascapes, namely Théodore Géricault's the Raft of Medusa and the abolitionist commissioned diagrammatic drawing of the Brookes Slave Ship. I then consider these works within the backdrop of political philosophy, in particular, Thomas Hobbes' concept of a state of nature in opposition to the political state. In examining these mediated images of the migrant journey within the intersected discourse of art history and political philosophy, I aim to reveal some particularities on a contemporary arena of uncertainty, which engulfs not only the figure of the migrant but by relation, the legitimization of nationality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBild och natur
Subtitle of host publicationTio konstvetenskapliga betraktelser
EditorsPeter Bengtsen, Max Liljefors, Moa Petersen
Place of PublicationSweden
PublisherLund Studies in Arts and Cultural Sciences
ISBN (Print)978-91-983690-4-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameLund Studies in Arts and Cultural Sciences
PublisherLund Universitet
ISSN (Print)2001-7529
ISSN (Electronic)2001-7510

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Visual Arts


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