Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)

Stemming from the field of medicine, where it describes a critical stage in the course of a disease, the metaphor of crisis has recently been often used in media discourses to describe problematic and portentous cultural, economic, ecological, or political phenomena. The term crisis serves in this context as a “narrative device” (Roitman 2014, 85), foregrounding that the current status quo marks a turning point in which decisions by affected stakeholders are of particular relevance for future progress. Crises are not cultural givens, but they are narratives constructed and perpetuated in cultural discourses (see Nünning 2009, Nünning 2012, Nünning and Nünning 2020). Although the term crisis primarily has a negative connotation in today’s media – especially in discourses of migration (see, e.g., UNHCR 2021) – crises do not necessarily have to result in disasters or catastrophes. They can also serve as opportunities for change and improvement. Adopting a positive reading of the metaphor of crisis, the OPPORTUNITIES project construes migration and the alleged refugee ‘crisis’ as a chance for EU member states to jointly work towards a fairer and more inclusive European Union (see also “Opportunity”).

⇢ see also Crisis narration, MetaphorologyNarrative

References and further reading:

Nünning, Ansgar. 2009. “Steps Towards a Metaphorology (and Narratology) of Crises: On the Functions of Metaphors as Figurative Knowledge and Mininarrations.” In Metaphors Shaping Culture and Theory [= REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 25], edited by Herbert Grabes, Ansgar Nünning, and Sibylle Baumbach, 229–262. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.

Nünning, Ansgar. 2012. “Making Crises and Catastrophes – How Metaphors and Narratives Shape Their Cultural Life.” In The Cultural Life of Catastrophes and Crises, edited by Carsten Meiner and Kristin Veel, 59–88. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter.

Nünning, Ansgar, and Vera Nünning. 2020. “Krise als medialer Leitbegriff und kulturelles Erzählmuster: Merkmale und Funktionen von Krisennarrativen als Sinnstiftung über Zeiterfahrung und als literarische Laboratorien für alternative Welten.” In Germanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift. 70.3–4: 241–278.

Roitman, Janet. 2014. Anti-Crisis. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 2021. Refugees Are Not the Crisis. It’s the Narratives We Tell about Them. UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency. URL:

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 5, 8