The Powerful ‘Truth’ Producing a Refugee Crisis: A Regime of Truth and Discourses on Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the Netherlands
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The aim of this thesis is to take a critical look at the regime of truth on the ‘crisis’ of asylum seekers and refugees produced and sustained by systems of power in the Netherlands from 2014 to 2019. The dominant discourses on asylum seekers and refugees that are considered ‘acceptable’ and ‘normal’, are actually social constructs. For example, we perceive asylum seekers and refugees as a threat or as victims, and we regard the inflow of asylum seekers and refugees as a crisis. As such, it seems that systems of power allow for the discursive ‘truth’ of 'crisis' to be produced and sustained. Moreover, our perception of the refugee ‘crisis’ is used to legitimise how we treat asylum seekers and refugees. Do we want our current understanding of the inflow of asylum seekers and refugees to govern our (policy) approach? This thesis adopts a Critical Discourse Analytic approach and operationalises Foucault’s ‘regime of truth’ as an analytical frame, to study the interaction between discourse, truth, and power. This research identifies three dominant discourses on asylum seekers, refugees, and the refugee crisis in the Netherlands from 2014 until 2019: the threat/securitisation discourse, humanitarian discourse, and human rights discourse. Powerful media and political apparatuses have status and are sanctioned to produce these dominant discourses, while asylum seekers and refugees are unheard. I argue that the regime of truth in Dutch society suspends asylum seekers and refugees between victimhood and malevolence. The systems of power that produce and sustain this regime of truth are inherently unequal and work to legitimise structural and symbolic violence against asylum seekers and refugees in the Netherlands. This thesis contributes by uncovering power relations and deconstructing established ways of knowing in discourses on the ‘crisis’ of asylum seekers and refugee.