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Browsing by Author "Paavilainen, Saara"

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  • Paavilainen, Saara (2016)
    In light of increasing trend in migration from Africa to Europe, it is crucial to consider our perception towards different cultures, religions and nations. During the colonialism, Africans were targets of racial othering, in which the African continent and its people were represented as subaltern, compared to Europe. Previous studies show that the racial stereotypes of Africa are still visible today, and while colonialism is generally regarded as something that happened between the core and distant periphery in the past, colonized/colonizer experiences are inherently visible also today and even in the Nordic countries. Today, humanitarian aid agencies are in a central role in framing the continent for the Western audience. Many of the familiar Africa discourses are from the framework of aid. Non-governmental organizations remain in a key position creating the image of developing world through their communication. However, the emphasized aid agenda further compromises the image of the continent. The purpose of this thesis is to critically explore the different ways NGOs in Finland represent Sub-Saharan Africa and Africans in their visualization. The aim is to critically view the contemporary image of Africa in Finland produced by NGOs and connect the representations to the wider theoretical discussion on representations of Africa. Methodological basis of this study is set in constructionism, which views the world as a socially constructed process, in which the social reality and language reflect but also create the world we live in. NGOs' representations of Africa reflect our world view but they also actively create it through their materials. The thesis will draw from approaches of post-colonialism and the concepts of otherness and paternalism and uses methods of content and discourse analysis in order to deconstruct the discursive formations behind the representations of Sub-Saharan Africa. Results show that representations of NGOs concentrate on positive imagery, showing Africa as exotic and colorful and personalize the continent with showing mostly images of people who are active and contented. However, the continent and its people are still represented as 'other' compared to Europe, even if in more positive light. Representations fail to address the diversity of Africa and its political and economic position in the world. Moreover, the dominant development discourses of neoliberalism are visible in massive amount of photos showing active and efficient people, especially women. However, recently, NGOs have started providing more 'mixed messages', which show Sub-Saharan Africa in more truthful light without exaggerating its problems or glossing over the real issues. By implementing the post-colonial development discourse to humanitarian communication, NGOs would be able to bring out the real voices of non-Western people and embed the indigenous knowledge to their visualizations.