Constructing the Eastern European Other: The Horsemeat Scandal and the Migrant Other
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The Horsemeat scandal in the UK in 2013 ignited a furore about consumer deception and the bodily transgression of consuming something so alien to the British psyche. The imagination of the horse as a noble and mythic figure in British history and sociological imagination was invoked to construct the consumption of horsemeat as a social taboo and an immoral proposition in the British media debates. This paper traces the horsemeat scandal and its media framing in the UK. Much of the aversion to horsemeat was intertextually bound with discourses of immigration, the expansion of the EU and the threat in tandem to the UK. Food as a social and cultural artefact laden with symbolic meaning and national pride became a platform to construct the ‘Other’ – in this case the Eastern European Other. The media debates on the horsemeat scandal interwove the opening up of the EU and particularly UK to the influx of Eastern European migration. The horsemeat controversy in implicating the Eastern Europeans for the contamination of the supply chain became a means to not just construct the ‘Other’ but also to entwine contemporary policy debates about immigration. This temporal framing of contemporary debates enables a nation to renew and contemporise its notions of ‘otherness’ while sustaining an historic social imaginary of itself.
- College Publications