Medium and narrative change: The effects of multiple media on the “Glasgow Girls” story and their real life campaign

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This paper is a critical analysis of the impact of transmediality on the story of the Glasgow Girls and their campaign against the practice of dawn raids and child detention by UK immigration authorities. The campaign first came to public attention in the United Kingdom in 2005, when a group of teenage pupils from both refugee and Glaswegian backgrounds (the “Glasgow Girls”) mobilized local and national communities to protest against the treatment of refugee families in Glasgow. That campaign is well known in Scotland and is a cultural touchstone for how issues of belonging, migration, identity, and community are expressed in both Scotland and the United Kingdom (themes that are especially pertinent with reference to the current refugee crisis in Europe). Having brought unprecedented attention to their case, the campaigners were the subject of a 2005 BBC documentary. Subsequently, their story was revised and retold in different creative media (in theater and television). The concept of transmediality is usually applied to fictional narratives to analyze the effect of different media on the “reality” of the story world, but using an anthropological theoretical framework, we use transmediality to trace how the real-life story of the Glasgow Girls has been transformed in its mediation across different forms. Drawing on two-years’ ethnographic fieldwork in Glasgow as well, as a number of original interviews with those involved with “transmediation” of the story, our research shows that the transmediality of the Glasgow Girls’ narrative has given the campaign continued resonance and longevity. Indeed, it has enabled the story’s multiple media to work in imaginative and cultural dialogue with one another. However, as we also demonstrate in this essay, the issue of transmediality has also given rise to concerns about narrative control and ownership—concerns that are especially pressing for the ongoing campaign and are also pertinent to similar initiatives in an international context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)87-109
Number of pages23
JournalNarrative Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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