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. It’s a Small, White World

. It’s a Small, White World

(p.115) 5. It’s a Small, White World
Africa in the American Imagination
Carol Magee
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter turns to the third case study concerning the imagining of Africa through popular culture. This chapter primarily engages the ways in which, like Mattel’s world of Barbie, the world of Disney — particularly the Walt Disney World Resort — creates a symbolic and metaphoric control of the world through its depictions of other worlds and cultures. Many instances can be found in the Walt Disney World Resort that present different perspectives of Africa. The problem with these perspectives, however, is that they all share some basic elements that work to create implicit messages about Africa as natural, inferior, and subservient to America. Like Barbie, the act of costuming is central to the construction of these messages, and is most evident with the “it’s a small world” ride. The chapter thus further examines and explores the implications of this ride for how Africa is perceived within American culture.

Keywords:   popular culture, Mattel, Walt Disney World Resort, Africa, America, costuming

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