24 June 2012

IR, SF, and Africa

We need to update our images of Africa.

Like a lot of Americans, I don't know a lot about Africa--just enough to know that "Africa" as a label obscures as much as it illuminates, much like "Europe." Nor is the almost reflexive use of the term "sub-Saharan Africa" any better. That phrase conveys as much about the societies, economies, and polities of the continent as the phrase "sub-Canadian America" would tell us about Maine, Arizona, and the Dutch-settled part of Iowa.

So I'm not the right person to talk about how we should update our images of Africa. But I do know enough--mostly from a combination of a handful of case studies and party from running a lot of data about the continent's countries--to know that the continent is rather diverse. And a very interesting BBC radio show about science fiction in Africa offers a particularly incisive way (for me, at least) of reflecting on how the writing of even non-authoritative texts (sf novels don't have the cultural cachet of textbooks or scholarly monographs!) constitutes a process of dominance.

No comments:

Post a Comment