A. G. Edjabou: Die Konstruktionen von Afrika im Migrations- und Entwickl

Die Konstruktionen von Afrika im Migrations- und Entwicklungspolitikdiskurs in der deutschen Presse 2000–2010. Eine kritische Diskursanalyse

Edjabou, Aqtime Gnouléléng
Deutsch-afrikanische Studien zur Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft ; 4
280 S.
€ 48,00
Rezensiert für 'Connections' und H-Soz-Kult von:
Cita Wetterich, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg

The connection between migration and development cooperation is a recurring topic in political and media discourses. Aqtime Gnoulééng Edjabou’s dissertation engages with these debates in view of German media discourses about Africa und aims to explore in what ways discourses about migration and development politics are intertwined. Edjabou embeds his research in the wider field of German language and literature studies, as well as in media and communication studies. Hence, the focus is on questions such as the selection, interpretation, and presentation of information within media discourses. Unique about this book is the author’s quest to explore the media landscape with an intercultural lens that allows the reader to engage with different constructions of reality by the media, more specifically by seven German newspaper outlets.

The author engages with a series of questions such as: Which normalities about migration do media discourses produce? Which observations about migrants are acceptable according to the media? Which realities are manufactured and how do the media influence the discourse about Africa and development? By engaging with these and other questions, Edjabou seeks to explore the effect of discourses, focussing on two aspects: the analysis of the media coverage of migration from Africa towards Europe and the link between problems connected to migration and development politics in Germany constructed by the media.

The book is organised into five main chapters and framed by a brief introduction and an outlook as a conclusion. The second chapter of the book presents the theoretical and analytical approaches of the analysis and is followed by a detailed exploration how Foucault’s understanding of discourse (analysis) is appropriate and useful to engage with the media construction of Africa in Germany. The third chapter engages with the discourse about Germany and Africa. Here, the author links migration and development (politics) to discursive frames that recur in the German media landscape. Building on these ideas, Edjabou explains the methodological approach of his research in the fourth chapter. He conducts a critical discourse analysis based on selected newspaper articles from German newspaper outlets, analysed with computer-based coding. The time frame is limited to the decade 2000 to 2010. The fifth chapter presents the critical analysis of the material. There are three subparts to this chapter: a selective choice of wording and mediatisation of the vocabulary used for and connected to Africa, the presentation of information (camera lens, tempus and modus) and interpretation. The interpretation of the outcomes takes place in chapter six. Edjabou intriguingly carves out prominent strands in the construction of German media discourses about Africa and development. Hence, he engages with the possibility of a discursive turn, the reoccurrence of certain prominent topics (such as conflict or the perceived insanity of the move by an audience), how and why journalists process and write about encounters with migrants, as well as the connection between migration/diasporas and development aid.

Edjabou compiles a well-rounded analysis of the German media discourse on Africa and development between 2000 to 2010. One of the strengths of his book is the thorough understanding of how discourses work and manifest. The critical discourse analysis is based on Foucault’s conception of (media) discourses. Edjabou manages to break down Foucault’s complex approach to discourses and shows how important it is to include categories, such as a power-knowledge complex or the relationship between mass media, reality and society, as well as the media and institutions. By that, the author offers an intriguing approach to his material and allows for a logical line of argument for his interpretation.

Another strength of Edjabou’s book is the part on temporality and the camera lens. The author manages to show the controversy that journalists create by their choice of narrative style, and by virtue of which persons have a platform in German media outlets. It illustrates the responsibilities journalists have and the implications their choices might have when they do not deal cautiously with their privilege. This approach to the body of newspaper articles that the author collected shows a deep understanding on how media content is created and how those processes influence the information the readers receive as a result.

Still, there are two aspects that should be critically discussed. For one, the distinction between development aid, development cooperation and development politics is clear. The author engages briefly with this topic when mentioning that in political and media discourses development aid, cooperation and politics are often used as synonyms (p. 87). However, engaging with the apparent interchangeability of these terms, which describe in reality very different practices and mechanisms, would have added great insights to the analysis. Additionally, the connotation of the terms is different and the use of, for example, development aid instead of development cooperation suggests dissimilar power hierarchies and dependencies 1 and offers a great deal of information about how Africa is constructed in the German media. A clearer distinction in the terminology (between development aid, cooperation and politics) would have highlighted this aspect of the analysis more. This would have given the author an opportunity to link the research more easily to academic discussions about the migration-development nexus.2

The other aspect that offers the potential for further exploration is the question of gender. The author mentions in footnote 5 (p. 15) that he will use the male terminology for men and women instead of using gender sensitive language that includes all genders. By doing so, Edjabou misses the chance to reflect on how the media impose gendered stereotypes on (Sub-Saharan) Africans 3 and thereby to link his work not only to Foucault’s approach to discourse, but also to his research on gender and sexuality. 4 In contrast to what the author did with his research, there exists a growing body of literature that engages with these dimensions and shows that indeed, one of the most important factors in the stereotypical description of (African) refugees and migrants, is the attributes that are assigned to them according to their gender 5, as has also been shown in the context of development.6 Hence, Edjabou could have used this extensive and well documented body of information to explore further how the German media assign specific roles to African migrants.

By including those two aspects, Edjabou could have embedded his analysis more strongly in an interdisciplinary setting, at the intersections of language and literature studies, media and communication studies, political science, sociology, gender studies and most importantly migration and refugee studies. Still, despite the above-mentioned facets, this book offers an interesting, methodologically sound and detailed contribution to the current academic discourse about migration and the media in the German context.

1 Martin Geiger / Antoine Pécoud, Migration, Development and the ‘Migration and Development Nexus’, in: Population, Space and Place 19 (2013) 4, pp. 369-374.
2 Ninna Nyberg–Sørensen / Nicholas Van Hear / Poul Engberg–Pedersen, The Migration–Development Nexus: Evidence and Policy Options, in: International Migration 40 (2003) 5, 49-73.
3 Cita Wetterich, A Critical Investigation of Gendered Security Perspectives of the refugee “crisis” in the British and German Media, in: ABI Working Paper Series No 9 (2018).
4 Michel Foucault, Dispositive der Macht. Über Sexualität, Wissen und Wahrheit, Berlin 1978.
5 Stefanie C. Boulila / Christiane Carri, On Cologne. Gender, Migration and Unacknowledged Racisms in Germany, in: European Journal of Women's Studies 24 (2017) 3, pp. 286-293.
6 Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo / Cynthia Cranford, Gender and Migration. Handbook of the Sociology of Gender, Boston, MA, 2006, pp. 105-126.

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