Images of Africa in World Press Photo

  • Kate Manzo


This chapter explores how Africa is imagined and represented in Western media. It uses World Press Photo (WPP) as its institutional frame of reference. Basing its analysis on representations of Africa in international photography competitions, the chapter argues that the winning images of Africa in WPP’s annual competition matter because visual journalism is one of the spaces in which popular geopolitical imaginations of Africa are produced, circulated, and sustained. While acknowledging the persistence of a colonial image of Africa as a paradigm of failure, lack, and pathology, the chapter does find evidence of photo journalism chipping away at the edifice of Afro-pessimism. Such signs of change point to possible broader transformations in geopolitical representations of Africa in the global imagination.


Africa Representation Visual journalism World Press Photo Afro-pessimism 


  1. Campbell, D. (2012). The Iconography of Famine. In G. Batchen, M. Gidley, N. K. Miller, & J. Prosser (Eds.), Picturing Atrocity: Reading Photographs in Crisis (pp. 79–92). London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  2. Campbell, D. (2007). Geopolitics and Visuality: Sighting the Darfur Conflict. Political Geography, 26, 357–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chari, T. (2010). Representation or Misrepresentation? The New York Times’s Framing of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. African Identities, 8(4), 333–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Greenwood, K., & Zoe Smith, C. (2007). How the World Looks to Us: International News in Award-Winning Photographs from Pictures of the Year, 1943–2003. Journalism Practice, 1(1), 82–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Greenwood, K., & Zoe Smith, C. (2009). Conventionalisation in Feature Photography: A Study of Winning Photographs in the Pictures of the Year International Competition. Journalism Practice, 3(2), 140–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Harrison, G. (2010). The Africanisation of Poverty: A Retrospective on ‘Make Poverty History’. African Affairs, 109(436), 391–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kim, H. S., & Zoe Smith, C. (2005). Sixty Years of Showing the World to America: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographs, 1942–2002. Gazette: The International Journal for Communication Studies, 67(4), 307–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kim, Y. S. (2012). News Images of the Terrorist Attacks: Framing September 11th and Its Aftermath in the Pictures of the Year International Competition. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 20(3), 158–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Linfield, S. (2007). The Ethics of Vision: Photojournalism and Human Rights. In A. Mauro (Ed.), My Brother’s Keeper: Documentary Photographers and Human Rights. Rome and Turin: Contrasto Books.Google Scholar
  10. Mannevuo, M. (2014). Reading the Faces of Hunger: Disturbing Images of Child Malnutrition in the World Press Photo Competition. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 17(2), 134–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Manzo, K. (2008). Imaging Humanitarianism: NGO Identity and the Iconography of Childhood. Antipode, 40(4), 632–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Moeller, S. D. (1999). Compassion Fatigue: How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Nwagbogu, A. (2015). Introduction. In A. N. Ostfildern (Ed.), Africa Under the Prism: Contemporary African Photography from LagosPhoto Festival. Germany: Hatje Cantz Books.Google Scholar
  14. Peress, G. (2007). Gathering Evidence: Genocide in Rwanda and in ex-Yugoslavia. In A. Mauro (Ed.), My Brother’s Keeper: Documentary Photographers and Human Rights. Rome and Turin: Contrasto Books.Google Scholar
  15. Skerry, B. (2013). Interview in National Geographic: The Photo Issue October: 65.Google Scholar
  16. Stirton, B. (2013). Interview in National Geographic: The Photo Issue October: 37.Google Scholar
  17. Zarzycka, M., & Kleppe, M. (2013). Awards, Archives and Affects: Tropes in the World Press Photo Contest 2009–11. Media, Culture and Society, 35(8), 977–995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Manzo
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Geography, Politics and SociologyUniversity of NewcastleNewcastle upon TyneUK

Personalised recommendations