The printed press's representations of the 2005-2007chikungunya epidemic in Réunion:Political polemics and (post)colonial disease

Jansen, Karine Aasgaard
September 2012
Journal of African Media Studies;Sep2012, Vol. 4 Issue 2, p227
Academic Journal
From 2005 to 2007 the French overseas department and Indian Ocean island of Réunion experienced for the first time ever an epidemic of chikungunya. Chikungunya is a vector-spread disease by mosquitoes that leads to painful rheumatic symptoms, and infected approximately one-third of the island's population of approximately 802,000 inhabitants. This article is based upon a discourse analysis of text and images of 111 articles on chikungunya in Réunion's two main newspapers. During the epidemic the Réunionese printed press functioned as a provider of information, and an instigator of political polemics. The newspapers' criticism responded to 'orientalist' representations of chikungunya within national press - and officialdom, but also reflected local perceptions of neglect and abandonment by the French nation state. While taking issue with other studies of press coverage of the outbreak, however, I argue that the polemics illustrate historical Réunionese geopolitical identifications with France, instead of postcolonial opposition.


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