Official Representations of the Nation: Comparing the Postage Stamps of Sudan and Burkina Faso

by Michael Kevane


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.

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Michael Kevane is chair and associate professor of economics at Santa Clara University, California. He teaches courses on African Economic Development, the Economics of Emerging Markets, and International Economics. He has published articles on the performance of Sudanese rural institutions and markets in journals such as Review of Development EconomicsWorld DevelopmentAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics, andAfrica. He is also co-editor (with Endre Stiansen) of a book, Kordofan Invaded: Peripheral Incorporation and Sectoral Transformation in Islamic Africa, published by E.J. Brill. He currently works on gender issues, including a research project in southwestern Burkina Faso investigating how social norms determine home and market production.


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