[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2018.
This thesis explores the relationship between development representations and diaspora
audiences. It brings together literature on representations, with concepts of audience,
diaspora and identity to provide an in-depth study of how and with what effects, visual
representations of development in NGO fundraising campaigning that depict Africa,
impact on Nigerian diaspora audiences. This study challenges the tendency in much
of development literature in this field to homogenise British audiences of NGO communication.
This has imagined audiences as some form of monocultural Western-situated community,
coextensive with the ‘general’ British public. It further assumes audiences read,
interpret and are impacted by NGO representations in very similar ways. This assumption
precludes critical engagement with the complexities and particularities of audiences
and is unable to reflect the multiple and differentiated ways in which audiences think,
feel and behave in response to development representations.
By using focus group discussions with UK Nigerian diaspora audiences, one-to-one interviews
and online-ethnography as the methodological tool, and postcolonialism as an analytical
framing, this thesis reveals the complex and contested ways that individual diaspora
subjectivities, positionalities and life experiences are implicated in their construal
of development representations and the perspicuity of their impact.
One of the key findings of this study is that development representations impact African
diaspora audiences in diverse and complicated ways, that both reproduce and contradict
negative and, stereotypical ‘ways of seeing’ and knowing Africa. Furthermore, it highlights
how diaspora ethno-racial/cultural identities affect, and are implicated in, the reading
and interpretation of development representations of Africa. Indeed, diaspora audiences
affirm and challenge their connections or, lack thereof, with their country of origin
through these representations. Moreover, the study shows how NGO development representations
provide symbolic spaces from which diaspora audiences can articulate their identities
as well as, forge relationships among themselves and with their wider communities.
This study builds on Stuart Hall’s (1980) Encoding/Decoding theorisation on
audiences, by demonstrating that Nigerian diaspora audiences of development representations
are sophisticated, varied and paradoxical in how they interpret and decipher media
representations. Indeed, their socio-cultural positioning, personal histories and
lived-experiences inform and shape how they discursively construct perceptions and
knowledge of their place of origin through representations. Furthermore, it contributes
to postcolonial theorisations of hybridity in diaspora identities, by showing that
Nigerians strategically adopt new and preferential ethnosymbolic identities, in response
to representations. These re-configurations of the Diaspora ‘Self’ are neither stable
or consistent but are nonetheless utilised by Nigerians to subvert development representations
and harmful public perceptions and stereotypes about Africans that they shape.
University of Manchester
Edward Adedamola Adeleke Ademolu, 2018
Submitted for the degree PhD