ge350 ch2 africa western perceptions

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Roots of Western Perceptions of Africa: 

Roots of Western Perceptions of Africa Chapter 2

Widely held (mis)conceptions or perceptions of Africa:: 

Widely held (mis)conceptions or perceptions of Africa: Some of the most widely held (mis)conceptions or perceptions of Africa: Overpopulated A country Violent people War Tribalism Traditional Poverty Recurrent hunger/famine Environmental degradation Primitive Uneducated Uncivilian Pagans

Slide3: 

Where do these ideas come from?

Social Construction of Africa!!: 

Social Construction of Africa!! Mainly received knowledge from: Travelers Missionaries Scholars Mass media, etc Spread stereotypes and ill-conceived research and development policies The power of ideas – unimaginable!

Examples: 

Examples Orientalism: Edward Said’s (1978) book 'Orientalism' – cultural and political relationship btwn the occident and the orient Focused on the writings of Western scholars and their 'othering' of non-Western peoples and cultures Justification for research, display and control in those areas Discursive Creation of 'an African' Image: Sources – next:

Sources of Western “Knowledge” of Africa: 

Sources of Western 'Knowledge' of Africa 1. Early travelers 2. Tourists 3. Popular press – magazines, etc 4. European colonizers 5. Theatre – Hollywood 6. Western media 7. Western scholars

1. The Travelers gaze: 

1. The Travelers gaze Pre-19th C - European knowledge of Africa – confined to coast First explorers – publications in geographical societies Then natural scientists and geographers and anthopologists – collecting specimen for museums, and land-man descriptions

2. Era of tourism: 

2. Era of tourism Early 20th Century Tycoons from Europe and N. America - to see fauna and flora, others to collect trophies Ex. Theodore Roosevelt in 1909: Traveling with over 250 porters through British E.Africa – killed 512 animals, collected over 1000 specimen for the Smithsonian Museum

Slide9: 

Though such tragedies exist, there is more to Africa and its people. Besides, it is important to know why and what has been or should be done about such problems

3. National Geographic : 

3. National Geographic Magazine - For more than a century – source of information on the continent Magazine seen as America’s lens of the world More than 10 million subscribers, also in schools, libraries, offices Spectacular photos, catchy writing – all done to convey a desired message Who does this magazine widely target? White upper middle class Americans It replicates and also legitimizes their world view

What has been the image of Africa in National Geographic?: 

What has been the image of Africa in National Geographic? For most of the 20th Century – mysterious, often intimidating, and barely tamed dark continent 1950s and 1960s – modern Africa portrayed, images began to change – African culture became less common 1990s – Modern Africa dissapeared! Why? Back to the old portrayal!

4. Europe's view of it’s role in Africa: Africa as the Whiteman’s Burden: : 

4. Europe's view of it’s role in Africa: Africa as the Whiteman’s Burden: And Missionaries as bearers of the burden Africa seen as : Irrational Backward Unchristian (pagan) Justification of colonialism Christianizing missions – Christianity see as European religion

5. Hollywood's Africa: 

5. Hollywood's Africa Africa – the backdrop of a series of movies How is it portrayed?

Africa: Overview…: 

Africa: Overview… The perception of Africans as innocents unaware of modern life, like the Bushman of the movie 'The Gods Must Be Crazy' or Jackie Chan’s movie 'Who am I' Or The belief that Africans are violent and cruel people who like to conduct endless tribal warfare

6. The Western Media’s Tragic continent: 

6. The Western Media’s Tragic continent Western media hardly covers Africa unless there is something tragic Only then, dramatic, graphic visusal images of Africa become common place in Western media

WHY THE NEGATIVE POTRAYAL?: 

WHY THE NEGATIVE POTRAYAL? 'BIG' STORIES COMMAND MEDIA ATTENTION: WAR AND INTERNAL CIVIL STRIFE CAR, DRC, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Algeria, Burundi, Rwanda POLITICAL INSTABILITY Zimbabwe, Angola, Somalia DRC rebels sponsored by Uganda Zimbabwe’s Mugabe in power since 1980

“BIG” STORIES COMMAND MEDIA ATTENTION: 

'BIG' STORIES COMMAND MEDIA ATTENTION DROUGHT AND FAMINE Africa's famine: Country by country hpp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/Africa/2027079.stm

Africa: Overview…: 

Africa: Overview… Also drought and famine is real Drought affected countries Famine Relief center

Focus on stories designed to shock, horrify or entertain if not outright sensationalism…: 

Focus on stories designed to shock, horrify or entertain if not outright sensationalism… Coups and Mutinies have cost Africa dear…But who is to blame?

Media Images of Africa: 

Media Images of Africa 'A CONTINENT IN CRISIS' 'A REGION IN TURMOIL' 'A CONTINENT THAT TEETERS ON FAMINE’S EDGE'

“A REGION THAT IS SUFFERING”: 

'A REGION THAT IS SUFFERING'

AIDS Crisis: 

AIDS Crisis HIV/Aids in Africa 2001 3.4m new infections 2.3m deaths 28m living with Aids Life expectancy: 47 years Without Aids: 65 years 44% of pregnant urban women in Botswana HIV+

Africa: Overview…: 

Africa: Overview… Unfortunately the media reinforces these stereotypes with negative news –drought/famine, war, poverty and AIDS War Internal civil strife is real: CAR, DRC, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Algeria, Burundi, Rwanda

Unfortunately Media focus on “Big Stories” leads to an uninformed public:: 

Unfortunately Media focus on 'Big Stories' leads to an uninformed public: Not Surprisingly: Most Americans view Africa as a country and not what it is a continent or a region of the world. Remember this gaffe : 'Nigeria is an important continent.' Lack of Geography and History courses on Africa in High School and College compounds the problem. Need to correct the problem:

WHY IS THE WORLD “LESS” INVOLVED IN SUB-SAHARA AFRICA?: 

WHY IS THE WORLD 'LESS' INVOLVED IN SUB-SAHARA AFRICA? AFRICA, AS A REGION RANKS LOW IN FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITY. Why? 'IT IS POOR, VIOLENT, DISTANT, LARGELY UNSTRATEGIC AND NOT CAUCASIAN' (USA Today, March 4, 1999 )

OTHER REASONS FOR NEGATIVE COVERAGE: 

OTHER REASONS FOR NEGATIVE COVERAGE LACK OF DESIRE TO PROVIDE A BACKDROP OF NORMAL, SELF-SUSTAINING EVERYDAY AFRICAN LIFE WHEN REPORTING STORIES LACK OF GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY COURSES IN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGES LIMITED STUDIES ON AFRICA ADDRESSING ISSUES RELATED TO CULTURE AND EDUCATION CONSEQUENTLY MOST AMERICANS VIEW AFRICA AS A COUNTRY AND NOT WHAT IT IS A CONTINENT OR A REGION OF THE WORLD

FAR FROM BEING A CHARITY CASE, AFRICA …: 

FAR FROM BEING A CHARITY CASE, AFRICA … ONLY 11% OF AFRICA’S GNP IS DERIVED FROM FOREIGN AID Did you know... SUB-SAHARA AFRICA RECEIVES only $809 MILLION IN DEVELOPMENT AID PER YEAR FROM DEVELOPED COUNTRIES COMPARED TO $2 BILLION, EGYPT GETS FROM THE USA. Why? AFRICA HAS CUT IT’S UNDER 5 MORTALITY RATE BY 45% SINCE THE MID 1960S AFRICA HAS MADE SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS IN HEALTH AND LITERACY AFRICA IS MAKING SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS TOWARDS POLITICAL DEMOCRATIZATION Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, etc.

But what is the real Africa?: 

But what is the real Africa? Why does Western media portray Africa in a negative sense? Is there some truism in the stories we read about Africa? Does the 'Western media’s Africa' still exist? What do Africans think of themselves? So what is the real Africa from a geographical standpoint?

Lesson Review : 

Lesson Review Introduction Western perceptions/images of Africa Social construction of Africa Major sources of western 'knowledge' of Africa Does that Africa still exist?

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