Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Neoliberal Visions of Africa: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Narratives of Economic Development in Popular and Specialized Media
by Harth, Amy E., Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2019, 521; 27773268
Abstract (Summary)

I propose that analyses of economic development failure do not explore the underlying assumptions prevalent in popular media and culture that form the basis of our global understanding of Africa and economic development. As a result, my dissertation examines economic narratives about Africa in four types of popular media (news, advertising, novels and films) as well as economic narratives in four similar types of economic development media (press releases, advertising, reports and films). This examination is grounded in an introduction that provides a foundation for understanding two key elements of these narratives: racism and neoliberalism. In addition, a literature review explores debates and prior scholarship in media studies regarding representations of Africa in popular culture as well as a history of economic development in Africa and its critiques. This literature review provides the context and foundation for my analysis by demonstrating a gap in the literature. This gap is that existing literature does not connect analysis of popular media representations to economic development representations and implications. My method for making these connections is critical discourse analysis by taking a historical case study approach to media in popular culture and economic development. As part of this holistic case study analysis, I look at the impact of structural biases, such as fragmentation as explained by W. Lance Bennett. I also apply the concept of historical silences from Michel-Rolph Trouillot. Using these approaches, I provide missing context for the mainstream narratives in popular and economic development sector media that links racism and neoliberalism. The conclusion compares the findings in each set of case studies. The main finding is that media narratives in both sectors continue to demonstrate an assumption by white Westerners of their superiority to black Africans. In addition, the conclusion offers examples of media portrayals that demonstrate alternatives to this framing of Western superiority when black Africans and African-Americans tell their own stories as demonstrated by Trevor Noah's work and the film Black Panther.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Barrett, Carol
Commitee: Mitra, Anu, Ogbaharya, Daniel
School: Union Institute and University
Department: Humanities
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 81/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: African Studies, Mass communications, Economics
Keywords: Economic Development, Media Studies, Globilization, Neoliberalism, Racism, Economic development in Africa
Publication Number: 27773268
ISBN: 9781392749036
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