Unpacking Refugee Flight: Critical Content Analysis of Picturebooks Featuring Refugee Protagonists

Ekaterina Strekalova-Hughes


In this paper, I analyze representations of refugee flight in children’s literature to extrapolate related assumptions about power and agency. The findings suggest that picturebooks tend to adhere to refugee flight as a bureaucratic process and refugee as an institutionally imposed standardized identity. Specifically, stories canonically mirror the legal UNHCR definition of a refugee, establishing forced-to-flee narratives, centering persecution, and corroborating well-founded fear. Collectively, stories mask what leads to persecution and distribute power to essentialized “safe” countries resettling refugees. The implications call for diversity of representation and invite teachers to critically unpack contexts of refugee flight.


children’s literature, power and agency, refugee flight, refugee label, RefugeeCrit

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18251/ijme.v21i2.1871

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