The object of memory and the memory of the object: refugee crisis in the news on September 2nd 2015.


  • Rooney F. Pinto
  • Isabel Maria Freitas Valente
  • Maria João Guia



Memory, News, Image, Refugee crisis, Migration processes


This article aims to contribute on reflecting about the strict relation between an object (an image) and the memory, particularly regarding the memory in the news on September 2nd 2015 about the refugee crisis. Every year, Porto Editora (a Portuguese press company) holds a survey with ten words in order to elect the word of the year, and, for 2015, the elected one was “Refugees” (Palavra do Ano, 2015); this would be one more evidence of the impact of this issue in the news. The photo of a dead Syrian child on a beach in Turkey has become one of the most striking images of the refugee crisis in 2015. Curiously, Muerte a las puertas del paraíso (Death on paradise’s gates) was the headline exactly fifteen years ago, on September 2nd 2000, when photojournalist Javier Bauluz caught the image of a dead immigrant who tried to cross illegally, facing down the sand on a beach in Spain. In both cases, could we say the image overcomes the news? Which one is to be considered the object of the memory: the refugee crisis itself or the image of the dead Syrian child as an icon of this crisis? The theoretical framework stands on a threefold argument: 1. Object, memory and discourse; 2. The memory of the news; 3. Europe, migration and refugee crisis. Finally, two interviews were undertaken (as part of the pilot study) in order to verify if the memory of the object were sufficient enough to turn it into the object of the memory, as well as, whether one’s memory were somehow relevant to establish a collective memory.


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Como Citar

Pinto, R. F., Freitas Valente, I. M., & Guia, M. J. (2017). The object of memory and the memory of the object: refugee crisis in the news on September 2nd 2015. Debater a Europa, (16), 221-231.