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...)

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In the English language, the concept of ‘race’ has changed throughout history. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term race (a derivate from the French and Italian terms race and razza, respectively) enters the English language in the 16th century, describing “a group of people, animals, or plants, connected by common descent or origin.” There is no reference to biological or other differences such as colour of skin in this definition. By the late 18th century, race becomes “any of the (putative) major groupings of humankind, usually defined in terms of distinct physical features or shared ethnicity, and sometimes (more controversially) considered to encompass common biological or genetic characteristics.” The latter reflects, albeit in a destructive way, the influence of scientific methods of observation and categorisation of enlightenment and modernism. The early ‘scientific’ and superficial categorisation of humankind by physical markers of colour of skin and other physical features have been debunked by genetics and the fact that humankind share the same genetic make-up. ‘Race’ should therefore be treated as a social construct and as such has often been used as a basis for division of people into hierarchies of different categories and groups, justifying practices of othering and discrimination (see also the entries on “othering” and “discrimination,” respectively), or as “technique of power” (Titley 2020, 45).

⇢ see also antiracism, Discrimination, Epistemic injustice, Inequality, Othering, Politics of mobility, racism

References and further reading:

Gilroy. Paul. 2000. Between Camps: Nations, Cultures and the Allure of Race. London, UK: Routledge.

Penket, Laura. 2006. “Racism and Social Policy.’ In Social Policy: Theories, Concepts and Issues, edited by Michael Lavalette and Alan Pratt, 87–104. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Titley, Gavan. 2020. Is Free Speech Racist? Cambridge: Polity Press.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8




Racism is a key term in migration discourses, where it usually takes the form of narratives on racism, including second-order observations of institutional or endemic racism. Notable exceptions are interventions backed up by narratives of personal experience (see, e.g., Eddo-Lodge 2017). Notoriously difficult to define from a theoretical (etic) perspective, racism is easily identified when experienced first-hand (emic perspective).

This programmatic perspective shift from an approach to racism which focuses on in-groups rather than out-groups is in line with the core concern of OPPORTUNITIES, the notion of level telling fields (see the entry on “Level Telling Field”). From this point of view, an out-group-oriented definition challenges both political complacency – i.e., the argument that racism has long been overcome in Western liberal democracies – and the right-wing backlash against anti-racism, which initiates pseudo-debates on cultural appropriation and restitution, designed to re-introducing racism through the back door. OPPORTUNITIES therefore advocates defining racism not merely as an ideology, a mindset or attitude, a set of discriminatory practices (e.g., stereotypes, hate speech, or verbal abuse), or (the threat of) physical violence, but also in terms of the effects of such ideologies and practices on those concerned. This is more than a rhetorical maneuver or an academic exercise in perspective-taking: it is the core of a new strategic anti-racist narrative.

This strategic narrative, which understands racism as a certain type of experience, empowers, first, the ‘experiencers,’ in narratological terms, i.e., those who are confronted with and forced to endure racism. It foregrounds, secondly, the alertness and vigilance as well as anxiety and fear felt by people who experience racism. It uses the concept of terror, thirdly, to describe such effects in a systematic manner. And it draws an analogy between the experience of racist terror and other experiences of terrorism. The implications are clear: if “racism is terrorism” (Diallo and Sommer, forthcoming), it should be taken as seriously as, and be prosecuted like, other kinds of politically, ideologically, ethnically, or religiously motivated terrorism.

⇢ see also Anti-racismNarratives on migration, Othering, Refugee archetype, Stories of migration, Terrorism

References and further reading:

Diallo, Moustapha M., and Roy Sommer. Forthcoming. Racism Is Terrorism: A Manifesto.

Eddo-Lodge, Reni. 2017. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. London: Bloomsbury.

Titley, Gavan. 2020. Is Free Speech Racist? Cambridge: Polity Press.

Category: C

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8




In the OPPORTUNITIES project, re-enactment refers to the process of retelling migrant narratives. During Cross Talk events, NGOs and citizens re-tell testimonials of migrants and refugees to establish a connection between in-groups and out-groups. Re-enactment requires both empathy, i.e., each participant’s willingness to listen to the others’ stories and to take their perspectives; and political listening to understand the other’s situation (e.g., an individual’s motivation and reasons for migration). It is through such means of recognition that the process of re-enactment enables migrants and refugees to assume agency in the public sphere.

⇢ see also Agency, Cross Talk, Empathy, Empowerment

Category: C

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8

[CG / MD]



According to the 1951 Convention and Protocol relating to the status of refugees provided by the United Nations, “[a] refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence” and who “has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group” (see also UNHCR 2021b). Such forcefully displaced migrants “are defined and protected in international law and must not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom are at risk” (UNHCR 2021, n. p.). Refugees do not leave their home country of their own accord but because they have no other choice (Goubin et al. 2022, 7).

⇢ see also Asylum; Asylum seeker, Expatriate, Forced migration or displacement, Labor migration, Migrant

References and further reading:

Goubin, Silke, Anna Ruelens, and Ides Nicaise. 2022. “Trends in Attitudes towards Migration in Europe: A Comparative Analysis.” KU Leuven, HIVA – Research Institute for Work and Society. [Working paper of the OPPORTUNITIES project 101004945 – H2020].

United Nations. 1951. Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Date of access: September 10, 2023.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 2021a. “Refugees.” UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 2021b. “What Is a Refugee?” UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency. URL: Date of access: August 24, 2021.

Category: D, E

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

[SG / SM]


Refugee archetype

The term refugee archetype refers to a set of stereotypical notions of refugees and displaced people that is typically evoked through the ways in which these groups are framed in the media. Marta Szczepanik (2016, 32) argues that mass media distribute a “[publicly] imagined ‘refugee ideal,’” which is based on a “universal set of normative characteristics (such as poverty, passivity or helplessness, [and] gender-related behaviour patterns).” This set then generates a “normative ‘refugee archetype’” (24) that underlies debates on whether migrants, and especially asylum seekers, are “legitimate” and hence “deserving” refugees or not (De Coninck 2020).

The archetype of a “deserving refugee” is characterized by a strong bias concerning various dimensions of a migrant’s identity, including their gender, race, ethnicity, and origin. According to Szczepanik (2016), women refugees and displaced children are typically depicted as vulnerable, passive victims, who are in urgent need of help and protection, whereas male migrants are “repeatedly portrayed as [a] dangerous, barbaric collective” (24), who mainly seek to abuse social welfare systems (26). Research on media coverage of migration, moreover, reveals that European mass media tend to present refugees from non-European countries as potentially endangering Western values or the European way of life (Arcimaviciene and Hamza Baglama 2018; Schröter 2023, 28–29). By reproducing and perpetuating refugee archetypes, mass media can contribute to endorsing the (problematic) view that a “good refugee” is “female, poor, helpless, and from a specific country,” while “bad refugees” are “people who intend to abuse the social welfare system of welcoming European countries, and who lack all the attributes of good refugees” (De Cock et al. 2018, 306).

⇢ see also Frame analysis (aka framing analysis), Frames of migration, Gender, Othering, Race and racism, Victimization

References and further reading:

Arcimaviciene, Liudmila, and Sercan Hamza Baglama. 2018. “Migration, Metaphor and Myth in Media Representations: The Ideological Dichotomy of ‘Them’ and ‘Us.’” SAGE Open April-June 2018: 1–13.

De Cock, Rozane, Stefan Mertens, Ebba Sundin, Lutgard Lams, Valeriane Mistiaen, Willem Joris, and Leen d’Haenens. 2018. “Refugees in the News: Comparing Belgian and Swedish Newspaper Coverage of the European Refugee Situation During Summer 2015.” Communications 43.3: 301–323.

De Coninck, David. 2020. “Migrant Categorizations and European Public Opinion: Diverging Attitudes Towards Immigrants and Refugees.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 46.9: 1667–1686.

Schröter, Juliane. 2023. “The Austrian Press Discourse on Refugees, Migrants, and Migration: A Corpus Linguistic Approach.” In: The Representation of REFUGEES and MIGRANTS in European National Media Discourses from 2015 to 2017: A Contrastive Approach (Corpus Linguistics), edited by Annamária Fábián, 23–66. Berlin: Springer Nature.

Szczepanik, Marta. 2016. “The ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Refugees? Imagined Refugeehood(s) in the Media Coverage of the Migration Crisis.” Journal of Identity and Migration Studies 10.2: 23–33.

Category: B

Work Package: 2, 4, 5

[BBK / CG]


Refugee camp

A camp is usually referred to as an enclosed outdoor space for transitory, spontaneous settlement. In dictionaries, the notion of the camp is, first of all, associated with the military lexicon: it refers to the site of battle or the place where an army settles before battle. However, camp qualifies as an indoor space when it indicates a site of detention, a prison where people are kept unwillingly. Since World War II, the camp is also associated with the idea of concentration camp and labor camp as mass murder sites.

A refugee camp designates the organized facilities where refugees and asylum seekers reside and are provided with basic needs – food, shelter and medical assistance – while waiting to be granted asylum or a visa. The refugee camp is the first safe space where refugees who cross a border – whether via sea or land – are welcomed and assisted. Refugee camps should be places of temporary and transitory passage but they often become a limbo for displaced migrants; see also The UN RefugeeAgency definition of the term. The OPPORTUNITIES project aims at acknowledging the complex and multifaceted notions of the camp by highlighting its temporary nature but also its importance as a space where narratives of and on migration begin to develop and be shared.

⇢ see also Asylum; Asylum seekerMigrantRefugee

References and further reading:

Braidotti, Rosi, and Hlavajova, Maria. 2018. Posthuman Glossary. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Nail, Thomas. 2015. The Figure of the Migrant. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 2021. Refugee Camps. UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency.

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7




Remittance is any good or money that a migrant sends back to his or her family or friends back in their home country or place of origin. For further details on the amount and importance of remittance, see Ratha 2005 as well as the explications and discussions provided on the Migration Data Portal and the World Bank website.

References and further reading:

The International Organization for Migration. 2021. “Remittances.” Migration Data Portal. URL:

Ratha, Dilip. 2005. “Remittances: A Lifeline for Development.” Finance and Development 42.4: 42–43.

The World Bank. 2021. “Defying Predictions, Remittance Flows Remain Strong during COVID-19 Crisis.” The World Bank. Press Release No: 2021/147/SP. URL:

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8



Representation of migration

Representations of migration and mobility or migrants and other mobile individuals (see “Figure of the migrant”) can be found in a wide range of discourses, media, and genres. These include literary texts (e.g., novels, short stories, plays; see also “Fictions of migration”), non-fiction books, newspaper articles, policy narratives and political speeches, as well as feature films and TV series.

Discourses of migration frequently draw on narrative as a dominant mode of representation. The main reason for this is probably that narrative may appeal to audiences differently than other modes of representation (e.g., argument, description, or explanation). Psychologists and media theorists have repeatedly argued that “stories have the power to influence minds and motivate action” (Bech Sillesen et al. 2015, n. p.), as they evoke empathy by causing their audiences to become emotionally involved with the characters presented in these stories (see Green and Brock 2000). This ‘strategy of affect’ is particularly effective in stories presenting vulnerable, marginalized, or even stigmatized groups such as migrants, refugees, or asylum seekers (see Oliver et al. 2012).

⇢ see also Empathy, Fictions of migration, Figure of the migrant, Narrative, Stories of migrationNarratives on migration

References and further reading:

Bech Sillesen, Lene, Chris Up, and David Uberti. 2015. “Journalism and the Power of Emotions.” CJR: Columbia Journalism Review May/June 2015. URL:

Green, Melanie C., and Timothy C. Brock. 2000. “The Role of Transportation in the Persuasiveness of Public Narratives.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 79.5: 701–721.

Juvonen, Annimari, and Verena Lindemann Lino, eds. 2021. Negotiations of Migration: Reexamining the Past and Present in Contemporary Europe. Berlin and Boston, MA: De Gruyter.

Oliver, Mary Beth, James Price Dillard, Keunmin Bae, and Daniel J. Tamul. 2012. “The Effect of Narrative News Format on Empathy for Stigmatized Groups.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quaterly 89.2: 205–224.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5, 8



Representative thinking

Cross Talks are based on the idea of “representative thinking,” a concept originally proposed by Hannah Arendt (2006 [1986]): “I form an opinion by considering a given issue from different viewpoints, by making present to my mind the standpoints of those who are absent; that is, I represent them. The more people’s standpoints I have present in my mind while I am pondering a given issue, and the better I can imagine how I would feel and think if I were in their place, the stronger will be my capacity for representative thinking and more valid my final conclusions, my opinion.” (Arendt 2006 [1968], 241) Participants in Cross Talk events who lack any migration or refugee experience (i.e., NGOs, citizens, or other stakeholders) enact or re-tell testimonials of migration and refugeedom to understand, and maybe even adopt, migrants’ and refugees’ perspectives. This process of re-enactment creates common ground between the performer and the migrant or refugee, thus opening a window of opportunity for a fair dialogue between the performer, the migrant, and the public.

⇢ see also Cross Talk, Empathy, Perspective takingRecognition

References and further reading:

Arendt, Hannah. 2006 [1968]. Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought. London et al.: Penguin Books.

Category: C

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7




As a noun, risk is defined as a situation involving danger or “([e]xposure to) the possibility of loss, injury, or other adverse or unwelcome circumstance” (see the entry in the Oxford English Dictionary). Risk as a verb means ‘to endanger; to expose to the possibility of injury, death, or loss; to put at risk” (see the entry in the Oxford English Dictionary). In both senses a ‘risk’ situation implies the chance of a potential loss.

Note that risk is different from uncertainty, which describes a situation in which you are not certain about future outcomes. Migration involves various risks as well as uncertainty in relation to questions of travel/route, income, unemployment at destination, poverty, cultural shocks, discrimination, etc. (for further discussions of risk in migration studies see the respective entries provided by the International Organization for Migration Williams and Balaz 2012).

⇢ see also Migration

References and further reading:

The International Organization for Migration. 2021. “Migration and Risks.” IOM: International Organization for Migration. URL:

Williams, Allan, and Vladimir Balaz. 2012. “Migration, Risk, and Uncertainty: Theoretical Perspectives.” Population Space and Place 18.2: 167–180.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8