Public relations, the postcolonial other and the issue of asylum seekers
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Introduction: This chapter draws on postcolonial theory to examine how public relations is used to frame and perpetuate power imbalances within cultural, social and political settings. It examines how postcolonial concepts are embedded within the public and political discourse on asylum seekers in Australia, analysing the role of public relations in developing policies and practices which rely on deeply ingrained attitudes of nationalism and sovereignty. Drawing on the work of Edward Said, in particular his analysis of the Middle East and the plight of Muslims in the West, it examines the treatment of asylum seekers within a neoliberal context, developing the themes of nationalism, sovereignty and the concept of the other to create a deeper understanding of this contemporary issue; and it echoes in the words from Australian poet Judith Rodriquez above. This critical study considers how asylum seekers, as subaltern and marginalised people, are caught within the liminal space between their own countries and the country in which they seek refuge, with little or no opportunity to voice their case for asylum. Dutta ( 2011 , p. 11) suggests how “silence” within the subaltern sectors in neo-liberal policy structures is deeply intertwined with marginalising policies. The “silence” which surrounds asylum seekers, the policies of exclusion and the discursive practices that accompany them, along with sites of local, national and international resistance that have emerged in response, are each examined within this chapter.
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