The Waterloo Centre for German Studies welcomes guest speaker Dr. Elizabeth Nijdam of the University of British Columbia, who will discuss Reinhard Kleist's graphic novel An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar and how it integrates the technologies of refugee life in order to disrupt media representation of migrants and the - often fatal - experience of migration.
In the last decade, comics and graphic novels on migration have become an essential forum for representing refugee experience. This emergent genre of graphic narration not only offers the representation of migrant hardships from the subjective perspective of refugees, artists, and volunteers working in the community, comics on the refugee crisis also develop empathy and awareness for the plight of migrants internationally by giving a voice to countless nameless – and often faceless – migrants, whose images circulate widely in the media. Moreover, comic artists working on refugee and migrant subjects are inventing new visual languages to express these individuals’ perilous journeys from war-torn regions of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to European soil, incorporating the very media technology essential for migration – and its representation – into the comics form. This presentation examines how Reinhard Kleist’s The Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar (2015) integrates the technologies of refugee life – the news industry and photojournalism that reports on it and the social media platforms essential to it – into the fabric of his narration to intervene in discourses on the media representation of migrants and the – often fatal – experience of migration.