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16 ESLJ 1 (2018)

handle is hein.journals/entersport16 and id is 1 raw text is: 
                                           Kathrani, P 2018 Do Androids Dream of Asylum? The Blade Runner Films
                                           (1982, 2017) and Fear of the 'Other'. Entertainment and Sports Law Journal,
                                           16: 1, pp.1-4, DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/eslj.213


Do Androids Dream of Asylum? The Blade Runner Films

(1982, 2017) and Fear of the 'Other'

Paresh   Kathrani
Westminster Law School, University of Westminster, GB

One  of the  predominant  themes  of both  Blade Runner  movies from  1982  and  2017  is the fear of the
'other'. At the same time as the replicants represent the most  obvious other, both films' enduring genius
lie in how they use  features like their soundtracks, images and  storylines to make the  other resonate.
Asylum  seekers and  refugees too  are often perceived  as others and this film review uses  international
refugee  law as a framework to explore some of the critical themes that arise in both the movies. It argues
that there are common   issues that underpin the treatment of persecuted people and  replicants, especially
stemming  from  otherness, and international refugee law is a good framework  to explore these  issues.

Keywords:   Blade Runner; The Other;  Refugee  Protection; Human  Rights; Empathy

History is replete with people having been forced to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere because of a
fear of persecution. Craig Stern (2001: 465) in his comparative analysis of homicide law in 'Anglo-American Law and
the Torah', for instance, explains how even in earlier times, certain cities were designated 'Cities of Refuge' and offered
sanctuary to those who fled their homes for fear of capital punishment because of a killing. The granting of sanctuary
was also a prevalent feature of the Western church for more than a thousand years (Marfleet 2011: 455) and, indeed,
during the seventeenth century, the British Crown afforded protection to thousands of French Huguenots who were
forced to flee Catholic persecution in France (Winder 2004: 81).
  All of these historical examples are, of course, antecedents to the current juridical protection framework that
applies. Today, motivated by the tragic plight of those who were forced to flee their homeland during the Second
World War (Gibney 2006: 73-74), refugee protection status is generally regulated by an international instrument, the
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 (the Refugee Convention), which requires those who have ratified
the Convention to afford the rights enshrined within it to those asylum seekers who come to their state and meet the
legal definition and conditions set out in its first Article (Refugee Convention 1951: Article 1).1
  However, as some of the stories and images, certainly coming out of Europe of late (Stierl 2016: 561-578), have
shown, refugee law is one area of law where there is a sharp schism between legal moralism and black letter law. This
treatment of the asylum seekers and refugees is nothing new. Even at the turn of the millennium, the United Nations
High Commission  for Refugees, commenting on what had occurred since the end of the Cold War, wrote that some:

   countries sought to adopt non-arrival policies aimed at preventing improperly documented aliens, who included
   potential asylum seekers, from reaching Europe...second, for those asylum seekers who managed to arrive at the
   borders despite these efforts, diversion policies were designed, shifting to other countries the responsibility for
   assessing asylum seekers claims and providing protection' (UNHCR 2000: 161-162).

This division between the moral impulse motivating the 1951 Refugee Convention and the measures that some states
have adopted to deter asylum seekers can be analysed from many different disciplinary standpoints: political, cultural,
and economic, amongst others. The theoretical framework that this review adopts is 'otherness' - or, more specifically,
afear of the other (Young 1990: 59-60).2 Whilst a state may indeed acknowledge the moral impulse of protecting those
who are fleeing persecution elsewhere, frequently, it is the apprehension of difference or 'otherness' that induces them
to adopt rigid measures. Matthew Horsman and Andrew Marshall (1994) look at this from the perspective of national-
ism: 'The human targets of the new nationalism are obvious; those of different cultures, who speak foreign languages.
Nationalists demand tougher border controls at a time when borders are increasingly difficult to secure' (Horsman and
Marshall 1994: 46).

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