From public service broadcaster to development actor: Deutsche Welle and the (con)quest of African female audiences

Eva Dagmara Polonska-Kimunguyi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


    This article examines German public service broadcasting and its message for African female audiences. It situates the activities of Deutsche Welle (DW) within public diplomacy theory and analyses the content of DW s Learning by Ear series, which is geared towards young African women. The article investigates DW s view on gender and education in Africa and positions the broadcaster s activities within the broader context of the German and European Union's (EU) development assistance to the continent. Through critical discourse analysis, the article examines the broadcaster s perception of Africa. It argues that DW constructs a flattened, reductionist and often incorrect image of Africa. In its stories, Africa is depicted as a continent of harmful traditions that need to be abandoned, gender-biased schooling practices which are a product of regressive African communities, and women who are voiceless and powerless. The article concludes that although well intended, DW fails to grasp the complexities of African realities. Its broadcasts emerge as a series of culturally insensitive programmes that perpetuate well-worn stereotypes. Supported by Germany's Federal Foreign Office and designed to dispose of backward African traditions to make space for the new and the modern, the Learning by Ear series echoes the language of the mission civilisatrice of Africa s imperial past - something that contemporary development discourse has significantly moved away from. (c) 2015 (c) Critical Arts Projects Unisa Press.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)382 - 399
    Number of pages18
    JournalCritical Arts: a south-north journal of cultural and media studies
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • African audiences
    • Deutsche Welle
    • German development policy
    • public diplomacy
    • women’s rights

    Cite this