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Does the contemporary image of Africa have its roots in colonial oppression? (short title)

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  • Essay length: 2624 words
  • Submitted: 19/06/2006
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University Degree Human & Social Geography

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Does the contemporary image of Africa have its roots in colonial oppression? (short title)

For many people in the Western world, the mention of the word Africa conjures up images of starvation, poverty, corruption and environmental degradation - images popularised by today's media. This is illustrated by the above quotation, depicting a continent peopled by the sick and famished, living in technologically-backward conditions and still at the mercy of their environment, in a form of stone-age environmental determinism. So how has this image managed to become so firmly established in people's minds? Is it because it represents the real conditions of modern Africa or, as this question suggests, is it a throwback to the imagery of Africa's colonial past?

In this essay, I would like to propose that neither of these hypotheses provide a full solution to this question (although many common features can be found between contemporary African imagery and that of its colonial past), but instead a number of other issues must also be raised. I will put forward this argument by firstly, outlining some of the historical perceptions of Africa and then comparing these with present day imagery. (When considering African communities I have

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