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Images of AfricaCreation, negotiation and subversion$
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Julia Gallagher

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719091469

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719091469.001.0001

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Mirrors, mimicry and the spectre of a failed state

Mirrors, mimicry and the spectre of a failed state

how the government of Ethiopia deploys image

(p.86) 5 Mirrors, mimicry and the spectre of a failed state
Images of Africa

Emmanuel Fanta

Manchester University Press

This chapter analyses the strategies through which the Ethiopian government projects a specific image of itself and of the country when engaging with the rest of the world, and in particular with Western donor countries. It focuses on three components of the Ethiopian discourse: its pro-democracy stance, its commitment to development and its engagement in the fight against terrorism. These three elements resonate well on the international scene, as they slot into pre-existing, well-established narratives about the desirable objectives for African countries, and the perceived threats to the west that come out of them. The Ethiopian government has been able to successfully instrumentalise the foreign construct of an image of Ethiopia and use it for its own benefit. At the same time, in its engagement with Western donors, the Ethiopian government uses a form of ‘strategic orientalism’ where it plays on the western fear of an Ethiopian ‘Other’ that would be characterised as an African ‘failed’ state. The power of both images juxtaposed – the responsible African state, alongside the potential failed African state – serves as a way to silence the government's critics.

Keywords:   Ethiopia, Strategic orientalism, Failed states, Mimicry

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