Conceptualising the Other: Online discourses on the current refugee crisis in Cyprus and in Poland

Fabienne Baider 1  and Monika Kopytowska 2
  • 1 University of Cyprus, Department of French Studies and European Studies, Po Box 20537, CY 1678, Nicosia, Cyprus
  • 2 Department of Pragmatics, University of Lodz, Pomorska 171/173 90-236, Łódź, Poland
Fabienne Baider
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  • University of Cyprus, Department of French Studies and European Studies, Po Box 20537, CY 1678, Nicosia, Cyprus
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  • Fabienne H. Baider is associate professor at the University of Cyprus and works on semantics and discourse from a socio-cognitivist and contrastive perspective (French, English and Greek). Her research includes gender and language, conceptual metaphors and emotions in political discourse, on-line communication and hate speech. Her present focus is on discriminatory practices as well as discourse strategies to achieve leadership. Her methodology includes corpus linguistics and critical discourse analysis. She is the coordinator of the C.O.N.T.A.C.T. EU Social justice project (reportinghate.eu).
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and Monika Kopytowska
  • Department of Pragmatics, University of Lodz, Pomorska 171/173 90-236, Łódź, Poland
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  • Monika Kopytowska is assistant professor in the Department of Pragmatics at the University of Łódź, Poland. Her research interests revolve around the interface of language and cognition, identity, and the pragma-rhetorical aspects of the mass-mediated representation of religion, ethnicity, and conflict. She has published internationally in linguistic journals and volumes (e.g. [ed.] Contemporary discourses of hate and radicalism across space and genres, Benjamins, 2017, with Yusuf Kalyango [eds.] Why discourse matters, Peter Lang, 2014, and with Christian Karner [eds.], National identity and Europe in times of crisis, Emerald, 2017). She is a board member of the European Network for Intercultural Education Activities.
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Abstract

Framed within cognitive linguistics, Critical Metaphor Analysis and social psychology, the present paper explores the dynamics of the online construction of the Other in the context of migration and current refugee crisis. Thematically, it scrutinizes online refugee- and migrant-related mainstream and social media discourses in two European countries, Cyprus and Poland, in 2015–2016. On the theoretical and methodological level, it looks at the constituted and constitutive nature of metaphorical conceptualisations of migrants/refugees, their axiological and emotional potential for threat construction, and thus impact on possible cognitive-affective attitudes of the host countries’ citizens. It is theorized here, in line with Conceptual Metaphor Theory, that the choices of particular metaphors and their frequency of usage are likely to influence the salience of issues among the public, activate certain moral evaluations and generate fear, thereby creating grounds for verbal and physical aggression targeted at the Other. The paper addresses the following questions: 1) How is the Other conceptualised as a THREAT in both physical and symbolic sense? 2) To what extent are particular metaphorical conceptualisations within the representation of migrants and refugees common to corpora from both countries and/or socio-cultural context dependent? 3) How can metaphors, including dehumanization, serve as a springboard for individual acts of prejudice, as well as systematic discrimination, and violence? The analysed data was collected within the European project C.O.N.T.A.C.T., exploring various aspects of hate speech and hate crime in ten EU countries.

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Lodz Papers in Pragmatics publishes theoretical and empirical research in the area of pragmatics and related disciplines focused on human communication, both in everyday interactions and in the media, whether spoken or written, and whether institutional or interpersonal. It aims to provide a comprehensive perspective on today‘s pragmatics, integrating diverse research from all over the world and assisting in further defnition of the field.

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