From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Covid-19 pandemic: the reproduction and contestation of securitisation of asylum seekers, immigrants and Afro-descendants in the Portuguese media

Rita Santos and Sofia José Santos


This article deals with discourses about the Covid-19 pandemic in the Portuguese media from 2020-2021. Through thematic qualitative content analysis, we explore how migrants, refugees/asylum seekers and Afro-descendants – that is, racialised people who are often read as non-Portuguese – have been portrayed by the media, and the idea of ‘non-Portugueseness’, constructed in relation to this phenomenon. The pandemic is an interesting context in which to analyse discourses reproducing the us/them divide, but also the ‘us’, given the heightened role security imaginaries have played in framing and reacting upon the pandemic. In this analysis, we examine (de)securitisation moves present in the Portuguese media when representing refugees/asylum seekers, immigrants and Afro-descendants, focussing on three main tropes: securitising said groups, explaining and deconstructing securitisation of these people, and shedding light on the threats and vulnerabilities faced by them.


Media, Covid-19, othering, securitisation, de-othering, Portugal



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