Communication ETDs

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The main purpose of this dissertation is to challenge assumptions of neutrality and objectivity in popular science journalism by investigating how representations of Colombian identities and humanature in National Geographic Magazine between 1903 and 1952 create social knowledge and power in the context of the U.S.-Colombia relations. The investigation is based on the analysis of nine in-depth articles, including 214 pages of written text, 200 photos, and 6 maps. I applied two methods of analysis: critical discourse analysis and visual rhetoric. The discussion of discursive practices, textual structures, and social practices was organized chronologically into three significant periods and related to changes in editorial policies over time, as these changing policies emerged as meaningful for the understanding of salient framing patterns of Colombian identities and humanature and their ideological implications in particular historical contexts. In the period of 1903-26, NGM's editorial policies placed emphasis on strictly scientific and academic language and editors explicitly advocated for the values of accuracy, balance, and fair information. Accordingly, in this period the authors of the reportages were scientists, diplomats, and statesmen. These narrators followed the main precepts of positivism and scientism pointing out objectivity, empirical evidence, direct observation, and documentation. In the period of 1940-1947, technological innovations that revolutionized photography allowed for the entry of new stories and new voices of travelers, adventurers, journalists, and connoisseurs of other cultures. A change in the editorial policy of the magazine becomes evident, as the editors introduced a more personal, subjective, and experiential manner of telling stories. In the last period of 1948-1952, NGM's coverage of Colombia introduced a new element: the inclusion of women writers. Their narratives depart from the conventional narratives of NGM in that they included stories of the private life of scientists and personal adventures in Colombia. This research shows that although the framings of Colombian identities and humanature overlap, change, and at times contradict one another across time, the representations reproduce the ideologies of Manifest Destiny, Positivism, and the policy of Pan-Americanism to support the U.S. hegemonic role in Latin America in the context of the first half of the 20th century.




Media Representations, Critical Discourse Analysis, Identities, Humanature, National Geographic Magazine, Colombia

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Committee Member (Chair)

Schuetz, Janice

Second Committee Member

Martinez Guillem, Susana

Third Committee Member

Obregon, Rafael

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