The African presence

Representations of Africa in the construction of Britishness

By Graham Harrison

The African presence


  • Paperback
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8885-8
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: July 2013
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Politics, Politics & government, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, Humanities / British & Irish history, Ethnic Studies


This book considers the ways that representations of Africa have contributed to the changing nature of British national identity. Using interviews, photo archives, media coverage, advertisements, and web material, the book focuses on major Africa campaigns: the abolition of slavery, anti-apartheid, 'Drop the Debt', and 'Make Poverty History'. Using a hybrid theoretical framework, the book argues that the representation of Africa has been mainly about imagining virtuous Britishness rather than generating detailed understandings of Africa. The book develops this argument through a historical review of 200 years of Africa campaigning. It also looks more closely at recent and contemporary campaigning, opening up new issues and possibilities for campaigning: the increasing use of consumer identities, electronic media, and aspects of globalisation. This book will be of interest to anyone interested in postcolonial politics, relations between Britain and Africa, and development studies.


'This book is an essential reading for anybody interested in the topics of the relation between Africa and Britain, African sovereignty, racism and post colonialism.'
Juliana da Penha, Independent Scholar, British Society for Literature and Science


1. Representing Africa
2. Putting images into (e)motion: representing Africa through suffering
3. Africa-Britain a short history
4. Africa campaigning in framing: from abolition to 'Make Poverty History'
5. Africa and the search for Britishness
6. Britishness and the search for Africa
7. Representing Africa through the commodity
8. The Year of Africa
9. Concluding thoughts


Graham Harrison is Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield

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