Introductory Human Geography Textbook Representations of Africa

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Abstract:

This article analyzes representations of Africa found in ten introductory human geography textbooks. Recent research in communications studies cites the common tendencies of the U.S. media to represent Africa in rhetorical tropes of disaster that are ahistorical and rife with geographical abstraction and misrepresentation. The main textbooks in geography tend to avoid ahistorical and geographical simplification, yet they often repeat stereotypes and misleading media imagery concerning Africa. A broad body of works by geographers in the last decade that offers critical scholarly analysis of both African crises and African everyday life is generally underrepresented in the discipline's introductory textbooks, although some encouraging exceptions do exist to that generalization. It is suggested that geographers need to critically re-examine the ways in which African examples are utilized to teach fundamentals of human geography.

Keywords: Africa; introductory human geography; representation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0033-0124.00302

Affiliations: University of Kansas

Publication date: November 1, 2001

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