Not just a victim of war

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2016
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- This thesis examines the way foreign correspondents report from refugee camps in Sub-Saharan Africa, using Mugunga camp in the city of Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a case study. Anglo-American reportage of Sub-Saharan Africa has been criticised, both from within the journalism profession and outside it, for presenting simplistic and decontextualised stories. This research sought tools and concepts to improve that reportage. It employs a practice-led methodology, using the creation of two feature articles in Goma as entry points to engage firstly, with the continued effect of the colonial Africanist discourse on modern media frames, and then with the practices around foreign correspondence, looking not just at source relations but also at the spaces foreign correspondents occupy. Finally, it considers the impact of the foreign correspondent identity. The colonial heritage of correspondence in Sub-Saharan Africa is exposed. More importantly, it is revealed that, that heritage continues to influence our frames of reportage and is currently being reinforced through the cultural geographies of crisis zones. This non-traditional PhD draws on postcolonial, development and media studies and international relations, utilising the analytic frameworks of Bourdieu and Harvey. Its methodology includes: the original production of feature articles; frame analysis of Australian reportage of Sub-Saharan Africa; the method of Situated Frame Reflection developed by Schön and Rein for policy work, modified here for journalism, and practiced with former DRC refugees now in Sydney. This research further benefited from qualitative interviews with correspondents, fixers and development professionals. It also borrows from the toolbox of auto-ethnography. Through the literature and case study, risks to the production of quality foreign correspondence are identified. These risks result from the recycling of writing tropes and embedding within bunkered humanitarian communities. The tools piloted address these issues. This thesis concludes that foreign correspondents need a decolonised and strengthened identity, and a renewed understanding of what bearing witness entails including incorporation of a normative cosmopolitan outlook. This renewed identity can be underpinned by the relational-based philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. Foreign correspondence is of most value when practitioners understand the ethical obligation, and great joy, of respecting the alterity that turns our interviewees into interlocutors.
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