How humanitarian organizations construct and contest the identity of "invisible" Colombian refugees through visual images
Sico, Jillian Mary
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Academics, humanitarian organizations, and the media have used the word "invisible" in many ways to describe refugees. However, few studies have explored the connection between refugee invisibility and how visual images can conceal or reveal their subjects. In this research, I explore the concept of refugee "invisibility” as an analytical framework for discussing how the production and use of visual images might alter the political, social, or legal "visibility" of refugees. In order to do so, I use academic literature, semi-structured interviews with humanitarian workers, and analysis of images of refugees. I find that the political, social, and legal factors that make Colombian refugees "invisible" also motivate humanitarian organizations to challenge and contest how they make and use images of Colombian refugees. This study contributes to discussions about refugee "invisibility" among academics and humanitarian practitioners, broadening the use of the term by explicitly connecting it to visual studies.