African Middle Classes

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Who are the 220 million Africans who no longer live in poverty and now own a “small wealth”?

The demographic boom of this population with very real purchasing power has meant major upheavals on the continent, as much in terms or consumerism as good governance. The African middle classes are the pointer for evolution on the African continent; knowing about them is a priority.

I worked with the university of Sciences Po Bordeaux and its departement Africa to include sociological and analytical content to my photo approach

A 3 years project (2008-2011) done with the support of the French Agency for Development (AfD) and the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE). This is the most important body of work ever carried out on this population, mixing expertise and photography in five countries and over a period of three years.


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A new approach

In each of the five countries, located in very distinct geographic zones (Cameroon, Morocco, Mozambique, Kenya and the Ivory Coast), a dedicated researcher carried out a four-month preliminary field trip to analyse the particularities of the local middle class, with interviews carried out in their homes, and focus groups. At the same time, particular attention was paid to places, representations and influences of this population.

My photographic work was based on this analytical work. Over a period of 8 months, I spent six weeks shooting in each country, following these people in order to document their daily lives in as much detail as possible, using a multi-media approach mixing photography, interviews, videos and sound recordings.


Diffusion / awards

The relevance of this approach, and the quality of the work produced has led to the creation of a research group at the Political Studies Institute (IEP) in Bordeaux, France, as well as two doctoral theses that began in 2010. The AfD also made a resaearch publication on this issue.

The photo essaye was awarded  a World Press Photo in 2010.

This project has been published as a portfolio feature in the press in over 20 countries by Geo Magazine (8 countries),  Marie Claire (5 countries), Newsweek, L’Espresso, Le Monde, …

It has been shown at the French Development Agency (AfD) and was the subject of an exhibition at the French National Library (BnF), at the photojournalism festival Visa Pour l’Image (see the flyer), before being exhibited internationally

A dedicated website shows visual works as well as some of the analytical datas


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The photo essay done during the “African Middle Classes” project lead to the creation of two edition contents

> Photo book “Petite Prosperité” published in 2011 by Images en Manoeuvre Edition. 1.500 copies. 128 pages. 75 photographies. 35€. Introduction signed by Dominique Darbon, Head researcher at AFrica departlment in IEP Bordeaux University.  See the book

> fanzine “Classes Moyennes en Afrique”. An editorial UFO associating on a A3 format and glossy paper photographies, graphic design, a synthesis of the analytical reasearch work done over 3 years. Pages can be detached to become a poster. 1000 copies. 10€.   See the fanzine   //   Download the layout of the fanzine

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