How Racialised Hierarchies are Playing out in the Russia-Ukraine War

Douglas, Omega. 2022. How Racialised Hierarchies are Playing out in the Russia-Ukraine War. [Film/Video]

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Creators: Douglas, Omega
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While on air, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata stated that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilised, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen”.

Outrage immediately mounted online, and the veteran correspondent quickly apologised, but since Russia began its large-scale invasion on 24 February, many journalists from around the world have echoed similar sentiments - largely followed by apologies.

Writing in the Telegraph, Daniel Hannan explained: “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. Ukraine is a European country. Its people watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts, vote in free elections and read uncensored newspapers. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations.”

The US-based Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association was deeply troubled by the coverage, recently issuing a statement on the matter: “Ameja condemns and categorically rejects orientalist and racist implications that any population or country is ‘uncivilised’ or bears economic factors that make it worthy of conflict,” reads the statement.

“This type of commentary reflects the pervasive mentality in western journalism of normalising tragedy in parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, south Asia, and Latin America.” Such coverage, the report correctly noted, “dehumanises and renders their experience with war as somehow normal and expected”.

The Guardian spoke with Goldsmiths University professor Dr Omega Douglas – who is an expert in race, representation, and international reporting – about what language is being used, what it says about our society, and what steps can be taken to prevent this sort of rhetoric in the future.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units: Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
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3 minutes 58 secondsDuration
Item ID: 32537
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2022 16:12
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2022 10:39


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