Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Postage stamps and economic development



Which stamp predicts development and which stamp dissension?

I don't normally cover stamps but Michael Kevane's paper “Official Representations of the Nation: Comparing the Postage Stamps of Sudan and Burkina Faso” (African Studies Quarterly, Spring 2008) looks interesting. This is not a stamp collecting magazine but a serious journal on African society.
An analysis of the imagery on postage stamps suggests that regimes in Sudan and Burkina Faso have pursued very different strategies in representing the nation. Sudan’s stamps focus on the political center and dominant elite (current regime, Khartoum politicians, and Arab and Islamic identity) while Burkina Faso’s stamps focus on society (artists, multiple ethnic groups, and development). Sudan’s stamps build an image of the nation as being about the northern-dominated regime in Khartoum (whether military or parliamentary); Burkina Faso’s stamps project an image of the nation as multi-ethnic and development-oriented.
(via Chris Blattman's blog via Marginal Revolution.)

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