Mistaking Africa by Curt Keim
Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind, Second Edition

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For most Americans, the mention of Africa immediately conjures up images of safaris, wild animals, strangely dressed "tribesmen," and impenetrable jungles. Few think to question these perceptions or ask how they came to be so deeply lodged in the collective American consciousness. Curtis Keim's Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind examines the evolution of such stereotypes and examines the role that popular media play in their perpetuation. Keim addresses the most prevalent American misconceptions about Africa and demonstrates how these prevent an accurate understanding of the enormously diverse people and cultures of Africa. Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind is not specifically about Africa, but about thinking about Africa.Our most damaging myths about Africa--those of a Dark Continent full of less-evolved savages--are nearly dead, but they have been replaced by more subtle stereotypes. Advertisements, for example, frequently use Africa to symbolize wildness, difficulty, or remoteness. In more positive portrayals, they depict African villages as scenic locations and wholesome living. Keim asks why our popular depictions of Africa rarely connect rural Africans to the modern world; rarely mention the role of the West in creating African problems; and rarely show urban Africans except to illustrate disease, famine, warfare, poverty, or corruption. Perhaps, says Keim, we actually like Africa to be portrayed this way.Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind is a fascinating look at our stereotypes about Africa and where they come from. It warns of the dangers of our misperceptions, and it prepares for more serious engagements with the continent.

About Curt Keim

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Published July 15, 1999 by Westview Press. 216 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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