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Rejecting Erasure Tropes of Africa: The Amazing Race Episodes in Ghana Counter Postcolonial Critiques

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Corresponding author: Leslie Steeves; e-mail: lsteeves@uoregon.edu

Abstract

This study of the U.S. reality television show The Amazing Race counters postcolonial critiques of Africa's media image and shows that Western media sometimes can get it almost right. Our analysis of 3 episodes set in Ghana (aired October 2010), plus interviews with Ghanaians involved with the production, reveal ways in which the episodes push the boundaries of conventional representations of Africa by resisting dominant erasure tropes—homogenization; denial of African agency; focus on Western versus African actors—found in most studies. Even acknowledging the legitimate political economic critique, and despite a disappointing closing scene, we argue that these reality television episodes constitute better journalism than most Western journalism, as well as better entertainment representations, offering lessons for both.

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