IV-5. “Comparative Studies on the Media Representation of Migrants, Refugees, and Film-making in Asia and Africa” (R1-2 FY2019-2020)

  • Project Leader : Wang-Kanda Liulan (Doshisha University, Faculty of Global and Regional Studies)
  • Collaborators : Naoi Riyo (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)
  • : Nakayama Taisho (Kushiro Public University of Economics, Department of Economics)
  • : Murahashi Isao (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, African studies Center)
  • : Hayami Yoko (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)

Outline of Research

This is a comparative and joint research project examining migrants and refugees in Asia and Africa. It will investigate (1) historical transitions in the media representation of migrants and refugees, with analyses of the political backgrounds and structures behind these representations; and (2) how filmmakers’ perspectives influence the construction of reality as well as the representation of migrants and refugees (this will allow for a self-reflexive approach to film making). Finally, the project will collect, preserve, and digitize photos and films related to migrants and refugees for the purpose of building an academic platform for research.


The objective of this study is primarily to examine the representation of migrants and refugees in Asia and Africa in visual media, with a secondary objective to examine how diverse actors, including migrants and refugees, portray themselves in film-making processes. Specifically, we examine how migrants and refugees recall their own experiences and history through films by studying individual cases of such film-making to see how they convey their own experiences and transmit information. At the same time, we view and analyze existing films on migrants and refugees and carry out comparative studies of changes in visual representations and trends in media portrayals of migrants and refugees. Through the act of film making, we will seek ways to use media in research and academically explore the relationship between representation and reality. Additionally, active efforts will be made to collect and preserve such“private” materials as photos and films collected or created by migrant and refugee support organizations or the persons concerned, so as to accumulate academic research resources that can be shared and passed on for the purpose of building systems and networks that will stimulate greater interest in migrant and refugee issues.

This research has two significant aspects: (1) by examining the photos and films collected and preserved by migrants and refugees, as well as their film-making processes, we will shed light on the internal differences, individual characteristics, and historical importance of these materials, which will open up academic possibilities for further discussion regarding media representation and reality; and (2) as photos and films offer information that is difficult to extract from written materials and oral histories, the project will provide fresh insights on the ways to use, preserve, examine, and transmit their data for academic research

Screening of Archival Film to Nuba refugees from Sudan
Photo by Isao Murahashi, Date: September 2019, Location: Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya

Nurul Mosque in Rayong, Thailand
Photo by Wang Liulan, Date: May 2019, Location Rayong, Thailand