‘Swartsmeer’ : ’n studie oor die stereotipering van Afrika en Afrikane in die populere media
Thesis (MA (VA)(Visual Arts))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.
This thesis consists of a study that identifies and analyses the origins, nature, and spectrum of different stereotypes of Africans in popular texts. The past can only be explored through texts, which are unavoidably mediated, re-interpreted, fictional and temporary. No text can be read in isolation – it is imperative to gain knowledge about the social and ideological context in the analysis of any historical text. History shows that racism is a constructed concept, and the roots of stereotypical perceptions of the ‘Other’ can be found in antiquity – in Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece and the Jewish Torah, as well as during the Middle Ages. A historical synopsis is given of the conception and development of racial stereotyping through the ages until the present. The study demonstrates how stereotypes gradually adapt with history, politics, and ideology. Stereotypes are in my opinion not necessarily constructed on purpose. Stereotypes are developed and based on historical events, but are transformed in time to fulfil new purposes. My conclusion is that racist stereotypes of Africans are created in the West, by the West, for the West. In many ways, the adaptation of the stereotypes of Africans act as a timeline for Western involvement on the continent. The stereotypical portrayal of Africa as the Dark Continent, “White Man’s Burden” and Godforsaken Continent will firstly be studied. Secondly, the depiction of African-Americans, especially in American popular culture, is discussed through stereotypes like Mammy, Uncle Tom, Jezebel, and Buck. The theme of my practical component, a two part series about the Cape Carnival, discusses the stereotype of the “Jolly Hotnot” or “Coon” and examines the portrayal of Africans as comical. The study shows the important role popular media plays in spreading and reaffirming stereotypes. Stereotypes are often used as a survival method to make the multiplicity of reality manageable, recognisable, and understandable. Stereotyping becomes problematic if the stereotypes are used as generalisations to marginalise a group in terms of features such as skin colour. A type of “cultural decolonisation” would be necessary to counteract this marginalisation, through popular culture created by in Africa, by Africans, for Africans and international popular culture.