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Beyond Afro-pessimism? British and French Print Media Discourse on Africa

Nothias, Toussaint (2015) Beyond Afro-pessimism? British and French Print Media Discourse on Africa. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Western media have come under intense scrutiny over the past 20 years for their propensity to marginalise Africa and to rely on colonial stereotypes, images and narratives. Both within and outside academia, commentators appeal to the concept of ‘Afro-pessimism’ to qualify and condemn this phenomenon. And yet, the notion is under-theorised and existing empirical studies insufficiently analyse and explain the phenomenon. Drawing on journalism, critical/cultural and postcolonial studies, this thesis seeks to answer the following questions: What is Afro-pessimism? Is it an adequate characterisation of media coverage, and if so, to what extent? Is media coverage moving beyond Afro-pessimism? In order to answer these theoretical and empirical questions, this thesis develops a conceptualisation of Afro-pessimism and provides a Critical Discourse Analysis of British and French print media. The analysis focuses on British and French broadsheet newspapers and news magazines. I critically analyse the visual and linguistic features of media texts against the background of their context of production and through interviews with foreign correspondents based in South Africa and Kenya. There are two sites of investigation: (1) the press coverage of the 50th anniversaries of independence (2007-2012); (2) the news magazines’ front covers dedicated to continental Africa (2011-2015). In site 1, I assess three recurring claims about Western media coverage of Africa, and investigate the discursive nature of the coverage in relation to Afro-pessimism and postcolonial memory. In site 2, I explore the emergence of an Afro-optimist discourse in media coverage of Africa. Finally, I offer a critical appraisal of the accounts of journalists at the heart of the production of Africa’s media image.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Africa; Afro-pessimism; Journalism; Critical Discourse Analysis; Foreign correspondents; representation; postcolonialism; Afro-optimism; international news.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (Leeds) > Institute of Communication Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Toussaint Nothias
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2016 12:44
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2016 12:44
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11657

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