‘Africa is a national cause': Race and nation in development aid communication—A Danish case study

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Abstract

This article analyses the intersection of race and nation in development aid
communication by way of a case study of the annual Danish aid telethon
Danmarks Indsamling (Denmark’s Collection, hereafter DI). The article reads the
media campaign which surrounds DI in order to understand the specific local
cultural and political function of celebrities who have ‘African roots.’ The reading focuses on how and when they are mobilised within a particular version of a Danish national narrative. These celebrity figures contribute to two
interconnected local understandings of the nation. The first envisages the nation
as a diverse, inclusive and outwardly caring community. The second links the
Danish nation with a one-dimensionally depicted innocent and childlike ‘African
Other’ in an affective economy of aid. The article concludes that these two
intersecting versions of national community are held together through the
performance of the celebrity Wafande Pierre Jolivel Zahor (a singer) via
representations of his ‘Africanness’. By foregrounding ‘Africanness’ and
simultaneously including him in the diversity of the nation he becomes located as ‘African in the past’ and ‘Danish now’. As such he functions as metonym for the promise of progress, which the development aid narrative prescribes for the
‘African Other’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Race and Whiteness Studies
Volume11
Issue number1
Number of pages17
ISSN1838-8310
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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