African women as news : a cross-cultural study
This thesis is concerned with the news construction of Africa, particularly African women in British and Nigerian newspapers. Informed by feminist epistemology as well as postcolonial theoretical perspectives, it explores the constitutive dynamics of race and gender as identities, which both depict and define African women. African women have historically been excluded from defining how they should talk and be talked about in cultural forms. This thesis uses the news as a negotiating space for certain African women [Nigerians] to participate in defining what it is to be an African woman. In doing this, the thesis serves a political end of giving 'voice' to African women as well as creates a form of dialogue between Western (British) women and African (Nigerian) women. This dialogue is crucial in feminism because the tensions, diversities and differences inherent in feminist debates have made meaningful conversations between women difficult. This study thus steps across cultures by offering a space for a cross-cultural dialogue on news constructs of African women's femininity. The thesis employs both quantitative and qualitative methods, which combine an analysis of texts and group discussions. In this study, I have conducted a symptomatic analysis of British and Nigerian newspapers during 2002, drawing on cultural studies tradition of textual analysis. Reflexive dimensions are an integral part of the whole research process. As a black African Nigerian woman in Britain, I embody some of the tensions and contradictions that characterise feminist cultural debates. This situation positions me squarely as the bridge between two cultures - as the pipe though which the words of one is carried to the other. This role is reflected in the thesis as my reflexive thoughts about the tensions and contradictions spread spasmodically throughout the thesis. By speaking and negotiating across cultures, this thesis provides an avenue for smoothening the tense relations existing between Western and African feminists and thus creates an opportunity for the possibilities of commonalities as well as an ethical relation with 'the other'.