For many in the west, the mention of Africa immediately conjures up images of safaris, ferocious animals, sparsely dressed "tribesmen," and impenetrable jungles. Newspaper headlines rarely touch on Africa, but when they do, they often mention authoritarian rule, corruption, genocide, devastating illnesses, or civil war. Advertising, movies, amusement parks, cartoons, and many other corners of society all convey strong mental images of the continent that together form a collective consciousness. Few think to question these perceptions or how they came to be so deeply lodged in western minds.
Mistaking Africa looks at the historical evolution of this mind-set and examines the role that popular media plays in its creation. The authors address the most prevalent myths and preconceptions and demonstrate how these prevent a true understanding of the enormously diverse peoples and cultures of Africa. Updated throughout, the fifth edition considers images of Africa from across the world and provides new analysis of what Africans are doing themselves to rewrite the stories of their continent, particularly through social and digital media.
Mistaking Africa is an important book for African studies courses and for anyone interested in unraveling misperceptions about the continent.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: INTRODUCTION
1 Changing Our Mind About Africa
2 How We Learn
PART TWO: EVOLUTIONISM
3 The Origins of "Darkest Africa"
4 "Our Living Ancestors": Evolutionism and Race Across the Centuries
5 Where Is the Real Africa?
6 We Should Help Them
PART THREE: FURTHER MISPERCEPTIONS
7 Cannibalism: No Accounting for Taste
8 Africans Live in Tribes, Don’t They?
9 Safari: Beyond Our Wildest Dreams
10 Africa in Images
PART FOUR: NEW DIRECTIONS: FROM RACE TO CULTURE
11 Changing Views
12 From Imagination to Dialogue
Appendix: Learning More
Curtis Keim is Professor Emeritus of History at Moravian College. He is a recipient of the College’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and he is coauthor of African Reflections: Art from Northeastern Zaire and coeditor of The Scramble for Art in Central Africa.
Carolyn Somerville is Associate Professor of Political Science at Hunter College, CUNY. She is the author of Drought and Aid in the Sahel and coauthor of Women’s Realities, Women’s Choices.