Africa in travel journalism : a postcolonial comparative study of the representation of Africa in the travel magazines Getaway, Africa geographic and Travel Africa.
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My research examines how Africa is represented within the meaning-making arena of travel journalism specifically focusing on the travel publications Travel Africa, Getaway and Africa Geographic. The principal focus for many postcolonial theorists is the (mis)representation of “less-developed”, “third-world” countries, often focusing on literature in the creation and maintenance of structures of discursive oppression. I have used the work of postcolonial theorists Said (1978), Spurr (1993) and Pratt (1992) to form the theoretical foundation of my analytical framework. A discourse analysis of the magazines for the years 2006 and 2007 reveal Africa to be a discursively constructed cultural package. Touristic understandings of what constitutes ‘real’ African experiences are underpinned and portrayed through eloquent and articulate descriptions or imagery which interpellates the prospective Western traveler. To borrow Spurr’s (1992) terminology Africa is portrayed as ‘absence’ metaphorically or through the rhetorical strategy of negation in an attempt to create a void which can only be filled through intervention by ‘the civilized’. However, in addition to this, the magazines offer active systematic proposals to foster change and appeal to audiences to trans-code representations, a notion that postcolonial theorist Elfriede Fürsich (2002) has discussed in studies focusing on television travel journalism. I am arguing that in some instances the travel journalists in these magazines challenge conventional, traditional journalistic practices in order to create more balanced representations of the African continent. It is these forms of writing that can harness social change and represent African people, places and politics in alternative depictions. These strategies may include various narrative or linguistic techniques such as an altering of the conventional, commercial travel discourse, or an increased and liberated feedback loop between the publication and its readers.
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