The Absent Victims: An Ecolinguistic study of Environmental Refugees in The New York Times

  • Nina Venkataraman National University of Singapore
Keywords: Climate Change, Climate Refugees, Environmental Refugees, Farming, Absences, News Discourse


Absence of coverage in elite newspapers about one aspect of climate justice is environmental
migration. Very little is understood about victims caught in the debate about climate change
and forced movement. The New York Times, with its selective framing of the issue makes
absent ideologically important factors that seem to alter the central story line of
environmental migration. These absences are methodologically mapped using Stibbe’s
(2015) conceptual tools of capturing erasure in texts in this paper. The argument that emerges
from mapping these absences is that there is a categorical operational difference between
erasure and absences. While erasure may be intentionally manipulative, absences offers elite
newspapers a way forward to ignore issues that do not seem to be news-worthy for coverage.
This way absence of coverage leads to absence of attention on the true victims of climate