Illustrating the Jungle Camp: Reportage and Identity Formation in the UK and French Press

  • Abstract:

    In recent years the mainstream press in the UK and France have devoted some significant attention to illustrated imagery in communicating contemporary events. This stands in contrast to the photographic medium that has dominated the media for almost 100 years, and whose ability to convey meaningful discourses about humanitarian crisis has been increasingly questioned. In order to examine the issues presented by the visualisation of humanitarian issues within the West, and to better consider reportage illustration’s contributions and effects, this paper utilises Fuyuki Kurasawa’s 2010 essay, Humanitarianism and the Representation of Alterity: the Aporias and Prospects of Cosmopolitan Visuality. This paper explores this alternative method of reporting by focussing on the considerable coverage that the Jungle camp at Calais has received through illustrated reportage across the British and French press and beyond. It will look at the reporting of the refugees’ situation through an image analysis of illustrations presented in articles and blogs published by the Guardian, Le Monde, Libération and Arte. It will review the visual features specific to the medium of reportage illustration (selection, editing, subjectivity) and consider the ways in which these approaches potentially challenge many characteristics associated with the photographic image. The paper will ultimately examine the potential for reportage illustrations to provide ‘thicker’ representations (Geertz, 1973), more complex discourses, and new or alternative approaches to the construction of identities, in particular identities that constitute ‘the other’ within the contemporary European scopic regime, alongside the identity of the image maker.