#RefugeesNotWelcome: Making Gendered Sense of Transnational Asylum Politics on Twitter

by Inga Helgudóttir Ingulfsen

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Winner, Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights (2016)

Please note that in November 2017, Helgudóttir Ingulfsen wrote a follow-up post to this paper, entitled “3 Reasons Why We Need Critical Feminist Theory More Than Ever in the Age of Big Data” (available here).


This paper explores strategies to justify refugee exclusion that are employed by Twitter users who tweet with the hashtag #refugeesnotwelcome. The tweets, understood as transnational nodes of discourse within a transnational platform for identity politics, are analyzed by combining particular theories of nationalism and immigration that are concerned with the gendered cultural construction of identity politics. I demonstrate how the Twitter users imagine themselves as a White Western Enlightened community in binary opposition to refugees who are cast as threats to the community’s racial and cultural preservation, and show how the construction of these binary oppositions relies on inherently gendered discursive strategies.

Keywords: gender, refugees, immigration, nationalism, transnational discourses, identity politics

Read a response to this paper by Courtney McGinn and Reina Wehbi

About the author:

Inga Ingulfsen is a Research Analyst, Global Partnerships at Foundation Center, where she supports the organization’s global programs, focused on building partnerships around data and knowledge sharing among philanthropic organizations around the world.

Inga received her MS in Global Affairs from New York University, focusing on peacebuilding, gender and migration. During her graduate studies, Inga worked for the United Nations in New York and Amman, supporting policy development and research on conflict-related sexual violence and regional governance and peacebuilding. Her graduate thesis, “#RefugeesNotWelcome: Making Gendered Sense of Transnational Asylum Politics on Twitter”, earned her the 2016 Center for Global Affairs Outstanding Thesis Award and the Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights, as well as an invitation to present her research to the Data & Research Department at UN Women. Inga received her BA in International Studies from the University of Oslo and has several years of experience working in public administration in Norway.

Project & Publications Type: Audre Rapoport Prize for Scholarship on Gender and Human Rights, Rapoport Center Working Paper Series