Representations of the Third World in NGO advertising: Practicalities, colonial discourse and western understandings of development

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This article examines the many factors influencing NGO advertisements and their visual representations of the Third World. Focusing on two specific advertisements, this work explores the influence of practical constraints and specific marketing techniques. Applying the work of Edward Said and Homi Bhabha in its analysis, this article will consider the relationship of the NGO advertisements to colonial discourse. Visual representations of the Third World that circulated into Europe during colonialism naturalized the division between white and black racial categories. This distinction, as utilized in the advertisements, is explored through Paulette Goudge's The Whiteness of Power. Following, an examination of imagery as grounded in a specific understanding of development is undertaken with reference to Arturo Escobar's work. Both advertisements' imagery is argued to be an essential part of justifying the development practices. It is concluded that as producers of visual representations, NGOs are in a position to disseminate alternative depictions of the Third World1 and, consequently, contribute to the production of new discourses within the field of development.

Keywords: NGO advertising; colonial discourse; development; racial dichotomies; the Third World

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of London.

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • The Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS) is an interdisciplinary journal that provides a forum for debate on the historical and contemporary aspects of media and communication in Africa. 
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