EXPLORING REFUGEE AGENCY THROUGH DOCUMENTARY PRODUCTION OF RESETTLING KAREN IN AUSTRALIA

  • Manoch Chummuangpak Dhurakij Pundit University, Thailand
Keywords: refugee media, refugee agency, documentary, resettlement

Abstract

This article analyses a documentary video produced by a Karen refugee who now has resettled in Australia, revealing the agency of the Karen in relation to the accessibility of media-making equipment and know-how. The documentary titled New Land, New Life: Karen Youth in Australia (2013) is directed by Moewin Tunkin, who fled from his home country, Myanmar due to prolonged civil unrest. Like most other Karen refugees in third countries, he found that while resettlement has much improved the lives of the Karen, it also has brought about many challenges. As a media enthusiast, he produced the 19-minute documentary with an aim to present the situation of Australian-Karen residents. Applying the concept “authorial voice” from a documentary studies theory, this article shows how the media message is constructed and legitimized through linguistic and visual presentation techniques. It reinforces the notion of refugee agency suggesting that refugees or displaced persons cannot be oversimplified as ‘defenceless victims’ or ‘mute victims’. In this case, the refugee producer has strived to become a proactive social actor by committing himself to media-making practice and creating an advocacy tool to raise awareness of the situation of the Karen, notably regarding insufficient support from the government and host society.

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Published
2019-08-19
How to Cite
Chummuangpak, M. (2019). EXPLORING REFUGEE AGENCY THROUGH DOCUMENTARY PRODUCTION OF RESETTLING KAREN IN AUSTRALIA. Proceedings of the World Conference on Media and Mass Communication, 5(1), 120-130. https://doi.org/10.17501/24246778.2019.5111