Unit 3: Questioning images: representation and critical visual literacy

Activity 5: Re-imagining Refugees

Estimated time: 45 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • To develop your critical thinking skills in relation to how refugees are often represented and what alternative visual representations could be made.

Resources needed

  • Access to the internet and a colour printer (alternatively, newspapers and magazines can be used for this activity).
  • A1 paper sheet, scissors, glue stick and felt-tip pens.


Exercise 1: The power of images

The first picture below is a picture taken in 2015 by Scottish photographer Jeff Mitchell which depicts a group of Syrians refugees walking into Slovenia. The British right-wing party UKIP used the second image below in an anti-migrant poster as part of its Brexit campaign. For some people in the UK, the poster was a clear attempt to incite racial hatred.


Watch the video I am human and think how images and words can lead the general public to buy into particular narratives that promote suspicion and hatred of refugees.

Can you recall a situation in which a politician or media outlet in your country described refugees in a very negative light?
What did they say about refugees? What kind of stories and narratives did they use to demonise them?
How did they depict refugees visually? What do refugees look like in these pictures?

Exercise 2: Positive images of refugees

You will use the internet to find alternative (positive) representations of refugees and choose one to create a small-size billboard. 

Look at your final product (billboard) and reflect on the message(s) you are trying to convey.

Finally, consider how easy it was to find these kinds of positive images.
not easyneutralvery easy
  1. Your rating
Why aren’t the photos easily available and/or circulate more widely in the media?

The British Red Cross has a series of powerful teaching resources to explore and question the representation of refugees and asylum seekers in their host countries:


Refugee Week also has some interesting resources for children and young people in schools:


Finally, Amnisty International has a selection of short films about refugees that can help you to start a conversation about these issues with your pupils:


Activity completed!

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