War, Displaced People and Poverty in Contemporary Films

Thursday, May 25 – 6

War-induced displaced people often face poverty and poverty-related conflicts in their host countries. They not only have to endure extreme poverty but also encounter prejudices, discrimination, and marginalization. Additionally, non-refugees and non-migrants may perceive them as economic and social threats—in underdeveloped countries (or those experiencing financial problems), refugees and asylum seekers can become individual and social menace in the eyes of many, due to existing unemployment and their status as a cheap labor force. This creates a vicious cycle perpetuated by poverty.

However, xenophobia and discrimination also occur in more prosperous, developed countries. Even there, displacement-induced impoverishment prevents refugees and asylum seekers from accessing opportunities such as education, healthcare, and social security. Children and women, in particular, are the most vulnerable groups subjected to various forms of exploitation, including sexual harassment, rape, begging, prostitution, and forced marriage.

This paper aims to discuss the challenges faced by refugees as depicted in cinema. Through purposive sampling, it focuses on three selected films—4.1 Miles (Daphne Matziaraki, 2016), Daha (Onur Saylak, 2017), and Island of the Hungry Ghosts (Gabrielle Brady, 2018)—to explore the representation of extreme poverty among people displaced by war as a source of conflict.

The methodology involves relating sociological arguments and findings from the literature to various films and media, whilst providing spatial diversity by using examples from different countries. What we aim to show is that displaced people, such as refugees or asylum seekers, suffer primarily from poverty, a significant infrastructural problem, rather than facing issues solely related to their culture or existence. Portraying them in films requires presenting the socio-economic, cultural, and psychological realities they experience to avoid misrepresentations and under-representations.

TR 🇹🇷 • PhD researcher at Kars' Kafkas University orcid || Full bio

Rahime Özgün Kehya (PhD) is an academic at Kafkas University in the Department of Cinema and Television in Kars, Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. Her research focuses on migration, gender, integration, cultural diversity and otherness in film and media studies.

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