Integration or Occupation: What Do Pro and Anti-Refugees Say About Current EU Refugee- Crisis?

Soheila Heidari, Alireza Khosravi



The concern of being occupied by refugees runs through the discourses of both anti and pro-refugee parties considering them as either a threat to be avoided or as an opportunity to be welcomed.  This paper by analyzing the reactions of opponents and supporters of welcoming current refugees in Europe, as the largest movement of people since the establishment of the European Union shows that they both consider European Values as the symbol and refugees as the occupiers of that symbol. Differentiating the occupation of land from occupation of mind, this paper illustrates that in the occupation of mind, a symbol that stands for the prevailing ideology is occupied to call the  governments to react to the needs of individuals that are gathered as a group. Also, by applying the critical term of “occupation” to read refugees themselves, it has been suggested that rather than the fix meaning of refugee, its floating meaning is addressed by politicians. It is concluded that by employing refugees as a threat, politicians intend to connote this message that the occupied will be another occupier.

Keywords; Refugees, Occupation of Mind, Occupation of Land, Floating Signifier



Sociology; Social Science; media studies; Humanities; Migration Studies

Full Text:




eurosat. 2016. “Asylum and first time asylum applicants by citizenship, age and sex Annual aggregated data (rounded)”. Online. Available at: Accessed May 18, 2016.

Holmes, Castaneda, S.M, H, 2016. “Representing the “European refugee crisis” in Germany and beyond: Deservingness and difference, life and death”. American Ethnologist Journal of The American Ethnological Society, Volume 43, Issue 1, Pages 12–15.

BBC News. 2015. “Syria Crisis: Where Key Countries Stand.” October 2. Available at; .Accessed May 21, 2016 .

Deutsche Welle. 2015. “Merkel: ‘Refugee Crisis a Historic Test of Europe.” October 15. Available at; Accessed June 1, 2016.

Huschke, Susann. 2014. “Performing Deservingness: Humanitarian Health Care Provision for Migrants in Germany.” Journal of Social Science & Medicine, Volume 120, November 2014, Pages 352-355.

Esses, V. M., Dovidio, J. F., Jackson, L. M., & Armstrong, T. L. 2001. “The immigration dilemma: The role of perceived group competition, ethnic prejudice, and national identity”. Journal of Social Issues, Issue 57, 389- 400.

Aiyar, Shekhar, et al. 2016. “The Refugee Surge in Europe: Economic Challenges”. International Monetary Fund, Pages 26-27.

Bonacich, Edna , 1972. “A Theory of Ethnic Antagonism: The Split Labor Market”. American Sociological Association, Volume 37, No. 5 (October 1972), 547-550.

Silver, Drew De. 2015. "Refugee Surge Brings Youth to an Aging Europe." Pew Research Center. Publisher, 08 Oct. 2015. Web. Accessed June 8, 2016.

Kristeva, Julia. 2008. “Does a European Culture Exist?”. Politico. January 28, 2013. Available at; Accessed June 8, 2016.

Ferfolja , Tania , 2009. “The Refugee Action Support program: developing understandings of diversity”. Teaching Education Journal, Routledge , Volume 20, Issue 4 , 395-407 .

Hainmueller, Jens and Michael Hiscox. 2007. “Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes toward Immigration in Europe.” International Organization 61, No2, Pages 399–442.

Sagener, Nicole. 2016. "Refugees Open Doors, a Long Way from Home." Goethe Institute. Publisher, 10 Apr. 2016. Available at; Accessed July 9, 2016.


Traynor, Ian. 2015. "Migration Crisis: Hungary PM Says Europe in Grip of Madness." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 03 Sept. 2015. Available at; Accessed June 11, 2016.

Ma, Alexandra. 2016. "Fareed Zakaria: Migrant and Refugee Crisis Is Testing Europe's Identity." The Huffington Post. 20 Jan. 2016. Available at; . Accessed June 15, 2016.

Kern, Soeren. 2016. "Germany: Migrant Crime Skyrockets." Gatestone Institute. Publisher, 21 Feb. 2016. Available at; . Accessed June 15, 2016.

Edwards, Adrian. 2015. "Seven Factors behind Movement of Syrian Refugees to Europe." UNHCR. 25 Sept. 2015. Available at; . Accessed June 16, 2016.

Sharon, Avinoam. 2009. Why is Israel's presence in the territories still called "occupation"? Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2009. Page5

Graber, Doris Appel. 1949. Development of the law of belligerent occupation 1863-1914. Columbia University Press; 1st edition 1949. Print.

International Convention Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed at The Hague, October 18, 1907. London: H.M.S.O., 1910. Print.

Oppenheim, International Law, vol. II, H Lauterpacht ed., 6th ed. 1944, Pages 341-42

Laclau, E., 2005. The Populist Reason, London: Verso. Page 151.

“Occupy Wall Street We Are the 99 Percent”. Occupy Wall Street Org, 14 July 2011. Available at; Accessed June 20, 2016.

Gautney, Heather. 2011. "What Is Occupy Wall Street? The History of Leaderless Movements." The Washington Post. 10 Oct. 2011. Available at; movements/2011/10/10/gIQAwkFjaL_story.html?utm_term=.89a93fbcd7d7 . Accessed June 20, 2016.

Kristeva, Julia. 2015. "A Common European Culture." The European. 11 May 2015. Accessed at; .Accessed June 22, 2016.

Laclau, Ernesto. 2005. On Populist Reason. London: Verso. p. 232.

Laclau, Ernesto, 1996. Emancipation(s). London; New York: Verso. Chapter. 3. "Why do Empty Signifiers Matter to Politics?". Pages. 36-40


  • There are currently no refbacks.