Media and Identity in Africa

Media and Identity in Africa

Media and Identity in Africa

Media and Identity in Africa

Synopsis

These studies incorporate both African and international perspectives. They demonstrate how media outlets perpetuate, question, or modify the unequal power relations between the north and the south of the continent. Focusing on east Africa, essays discuss the construction of old and new social entities as defined by class, gender, ethnicity, religion, and political and economic differences. Contributors illustrate how locals are increasingly controlling traditional and modern forms of media and countering the forces of globalization.

Excerpt

This brief Prologue is to introduce a collection of papers given at a seminar held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 3 to 7 August 2004, on the topic ‘Media and the Construction of Identity in Africa’. A wide view of the seminar is given by its Chairman, Professor Valentin Y. Mudimbe, in his Epilogue at the end of the book. Here we attempt to summarize some of the arguments put forward by the participants at the seminar itself and later put into writing by them (all have been slightly edited for presentation in book format).

The seminar was the most recent of a long series of meetings held in Africa by the International African Institute, London, and was funded by the Ford Foundation, Office of Eastern Africa. The Institute was founded in London in 1926, as a research and publishing organization independent of governmental, missionary, or commercial control. Its main aim has been to disseminate knowledge about an ever-changing Africa whose people have all too often been regarded in Europe and America as culturally, intellectually, and morally inferior; a view linked to colonialism, to the modern political, financial, and commercial dependence of most African countries on the West, and to sheer ignorance. The Institute has for three-quarters of a century combatted that view and has demonstrated the formerly unrecognized qualities and importance of African civilizations to the rest of the world. An important part of its programme has been to organize seminars at various universities in Africa and to publish the papers presented at them. The long-term aim has been to advance knowledge, that comes from within Africa, of African societies, their cultures, their languages, and the many problems that face them, and to bring together African and nonAfrican scholars so as to construct a common understanding of these problems and to emphasize the commonality of Africans and non-Africans in the world.

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