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Representing Africa AN227 F17
Transcript of Representing Africa AN227 F17
"visions or illusions of Africa are created out of particular assumptions, biases, prejudices, fantasies, or ideologies"
(Steiner & Grinker)
"there is a power in observation, to order objects and persons into a world to be known"
-Who gets to create the "idea"? Who has the power to represent?
Where do our ideas/images of Africa come from?
Imagery of the "Dark Continent" rooted in 19th century...
Questions about how does a group of people relate to biological evolution & technological advances
Ota Benga - 1906
Colonialism as gift:
"The White Man's Burden"
End This! Now!
“In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.”
--"How to write about Africa"
We were wanderers on a
, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet. We could have fancied ourselves the first of men taking possession of an accursed inheritance, to be subdued at the cost of profound anguish and of excessive toil. But suddenly, as we struggled round a bend, there would be a glimpse of rush walls, of peaked grass-roofs, a burst of yells, a whirl of black limbs, a mass of hands clapping, of feet stamping, of bodies swaying, of eyes rolling, under the droop of heavy and motionless foliage. The steamer toiled along slowly on the edge of a black and incomprehensible frenzy. The
was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us? who could tell? We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings; we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. We could not remember because we were traveling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign- and no memories. The earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there- there you could look at a thing monstrous and free. It was unearthly, and the men were- No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it? this suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you- you so remote from the night of first ages- could comprehend.
Take up the White Man's burden
Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.
BandAid/Live Aid 1984 & 2005
USA for Africa
Sarah "Saartjie" Baartman
Take up the White Man's burden
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.
How have these "ideas" continued?
Can Bono Save Africa?
"Discourse is also practice; it is not simply a way of understanding or thinking about the world, it is also a way of acting in it" (Walley 1994).
What strikes you about the representation of "Africa" in this video?
What image/idea of "Africa" & "Africans" does Conrad present?
What did you think of Kaplan's article? Why is his representation problematic? How does it pick up on ideas of the 'dark continent' and 'white man's burden'?
Gunshots echoed through the bush and seemed to be getting closer. I couldn’t imagine the awful, sporadic acts of violence that were being committed as the village was ransacked. Fear and anger for the children consumed my thoughts… As the night ticked interminably by, I tried not to think what the rebels would do to the ‘skinny white muzungu with long angel hair’ if they found me. Clenching my jaw to stop my teeth chattering, I squeezed my eyes shut and reminded myself how I’d come to be a central character in this horror story.
I know that the skinny white girl once so incongruous in Africa still lives on inside me. Even in this world where I’m supposed to belong, I still sometimes feel out of place. Whenever that happens, though, I try to remember a smiling gap-toothed child with HIV whose greatest joy was to sit on my lap and drink from a bottle of Coca-Cola. Zimba taught me many beautiful words but the one I like the most is Nsansa. Happiness.