Migrants as 'pawns': Antimigrant debates on Twitter and their affinity to European border politics and discourses

Maria Avraamidou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article explores how Europe’s border crises in the post refugee ‘crisis’ years were discussed in the micro-blog Twitter, through an in-depth analysis of boundary making. Our focus is on the tweets of the top influencers of the hashtag #IStandWithGreece who strategically promoted ideologies ranging from white supremacism to Greek nationalism, glued together by an antimigrant stance during a border ‘crisis’ at Europe’s periphery. This network of intolerance promoted a representation of migrants as ‘pawns’; seen like a chess piece, with no value in their own right, literally pushed towards Europe by Turkey, who elevated them into a sizable threat. Within this, Europe was represented as a paradoxical other, the fallen Self, for not rising up to the opportunity to protect its sovereignty and identity through more securitization. Despite being diffused by extreme antimigrant Twitterers, we argue that these tweets offer a more overtly racist expression of otherwise mainstream European (Union) discourses and politics on migration. Effectively, #IStandWithGreece’s influencers functioned as Europe’s alter-ego mouthpiece, saying the unsayable using social media, and their affordances contributing to the normalization of an oppressive and restrictive European border management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number0
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research and Innovation Foundation (Project POST-DOC/0916/0115).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


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