Framing Africa’s Ability to Self-Govern: An Analysis of Western media’s representation of African nations during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Swarthmore College. Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology
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The process of representation in the global media environment is implicated in complex and contested power relations over whose stories are told, how and by whom. Due to an array of geopolitical factors, Africa has become synonymous with famine, tribal war, hunger and poverty in the news discourse and public imagination of the West. The aim of this thesis is to analyze the circulation of information from Western news organizations about Africa’s response to COVID- 19 and how assertions on how COVID-19 will play out in the African context are implicated in Eurocentric discursive rituals that dismiss the momentous impact colonialism and present day neoliberal policies have had on Africa’s diverse socioeconomic conditions. Through the analysis of articles published from The Washington Post and The New York Times, I argue that Africa’s infamous narrative as a homogenous place of scarcity and incompetency were used to frame Africans as incapable of self-sufficiency and productive decision-making to fight against the emerging global pandemic. It is apparent that Africa’s problem is not simply ‘negative’ storylines in Western media coverage, but that there is a lack of in-depth and nuanced reporting of the continent that includes all the historical specificites of Africa’s diverse and dynamic story.