Historical Experiences of Migration in Political Discourse in Greece: Using Critical Discourse Analysis to Explore Policy Legitimation


DOI: 10.12738/mejrs.2017.2.2.0114

Year: 2017 Vol: 2 Number: 2


Histories of migration are connected to the development of collective identities and the articulation of discourses of belonging in many national contexts. They are also often employed in legitimating policies on migration, asylum and integration in many national contexts. Critical Discourse Analysis, as a methodological approach inherently concerned with relations of power and the dynamics of exclusion, is particularly suited to exploring how references to past experiences of migration are used in parliamentary debates to legitimate or delegitimate migration policies. Greece, a country where histories of emigration and reception of ethnically Greek refugees are central to constructions of national identity, is used as a case study. Drawing on the analysis of twenty parliamentary debates on eight different laws on migration and asylum, I argue that the invocation of past experiences of migration is both instrumental and ambivalent. All parties, regardless of their political orientation, employ them to either legitimate or critique proposed policies. However, the analysis shows that historical experiences of migration are used to create both narratives of similarity as well as difference between the experiences of immigrants to Greece and Greek emigrants. They are thus used to argue both for the inclusion and exclusion of migrants. In addition, invocations of past experiences of migration reproduce the imagined national community.

Migration, History, Political discourse, Policy legitimation, Greece

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