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A grey area: The Nigerien Sahel in the French media

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This paper analyses how the French media perceive the advent of Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the Sahel, and particularly in Niger. It shows that the French media are constructing Niger as a ‘grey area’, a dangerous place and a ‘failed state’ through a monolithic discourse rooted in French cultural and ideological presuppositions about Africa and Africans. I argue that the monolithic discourse of French media on the War on Terror in the Sahel is the result of similar educational trajectories, cultural backgrounds and positions shared by journalists within the field, which tend to produce similar patterns of thinking. The paper is based on a critical analysis of ‘representative’ articles written between 1 January 2008 and 30 September 2011 in three leading French newspapers. It uses a qualitative approach and takes place within the framework of media content analysis.

Keywords: AQMI; French media; Niger; Sahara; Sahel; frames; symbolic power; terrorism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: American University of Nigeria

Publication date: April 27, 2012

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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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