Summary: One of the most important and poignant components in a discussion of immigration issues is necessarily the processes of othering that occur when the legal and social legitimacy of a particular immigrant group is called into question. Xenophobia, anxieties about assimilation or the lack thereof, beliefs that a group of immigrants are hopelessly different, assumptions about immigrants causing rising crime rates and an overall lower quality of life for their neighbors, and discursive aspects such as the use of the words "illegal" and "alien" all come into play. In this short science fiction film, Neill Blomkamp (director of the movie District 9, which was based on this same film) juxtaposes a story about extraterrestrial refugees in Johannesburg under the apartheid government with real interviews with Johannesburg residents about refugees from Zimbabwe. This film can be used to open a discussion about the deeper meanings and connotations of words like "alien" when applied to human beings. What are the fears that such words represent and reproduce? What images and ideas do these forms of discourse call up in people's minds? What are the practical consequences of immigration threat discourses? And what real-life equivalents can students think of in terms of immigrant groups defined by others by their race, ethnicity, religion, etc.?
Submitted By: Sarah Wanenchak