This article analyzes coverage of separated child migrants in three British
tabloids between the introduction of the Dubs Amendment, which committed to relocating
unaccompanied minors to the UK, and the demolition of the unofficial refugee
camp in Calais. This camp has been a key symbol of Europe’s “migration crisis” and the
subject of significant media attention in which unaccompanied children feature prominently.
By considering the changes in tabloid coverage over this time period, this article
highlights the increasing contestation of the authenticity of separated children as they
began arriving in the UK under Dubs, concurrent with representations of “genuine”
child migrants as innocent and vulnerable. We argue that attention to proximity can help
account for changing discourses and that the media can simultaneously sustain contradictory
views by preserving an essentialized view of “the child,” grounded in racialized,
Eurocentric, and advanced capitalist norms. Together, these points raise questions about
the political consequences of framing hospitality in the name of “the child.”
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