The myth of representations of Africa: A comprehensive scoping review of the literature

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This paper presents the results of a comprehensive scoping review of all empirical research into US and UK media representations of Africa published between 1990 and 2014. The results show that existing research has a remarkably narrow focus on a specific number of countries, events, media and texts. Research into representations of North Africa, Francophone Africa, non-news genres, non-elite media and radio content, is particularly scarce. This, I contend, provides an insufficient basis for reaching any firm, generalizable conclusions about the nature of media coverage of Africa. In short, the widespread belief that we know how Africa is represented in the US and UK media is shown to be a myth. This paper also discusses how this myth has been maintained through misinterpretations of evidence and certain citation practices as well as the implications of these findings for the many corporations, governments, NGOs and researchers whose activities depend upon, or have helped to preserve, this myth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-210
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number2
Early online date11 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Africa
  • Media Representations
  • scoping review
  • afro-pessimism

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