Countries emerging from violent conflict face difficult challenges about what the role of media should be in political transitions, particularly when attempting to build a new state and balance a difficult legacy. ‘Media, Conflict, and the State in Africa’ by Nicole Stremlau and published by Cambridge University Press, discusses how ideas, institutions and interests have shaped media systems in some of Africa’s most complex state and nation-building projects. This timely book comes at a turbulent moment in global politics as waves of populist protests gain traction, and concerns continue to grow about fake news, social media echo chambers, and the increasing role of both traditional and new media in waging wars or influencing elections. Focusing on comparative cases from a historical perspective and the choices and ideas that informed the approaches of some of Africa’s leaders, including guerrilla commanders Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, Nicole Stremlau offers a unique political insight into the development of contemporary media systems in Africa.
ConflictNET has launched its project website. Nicole Stremlau, head of the PCMLP, has received a 1.5 million euro European Research Council grant to fund and lead ConflictNET. The project examines how social media affect the balance between peace-building efforts and attempts to perpetuate violence in conflict-affected communities. Geographically, ConflictNET focuses on conflict related to religion and politics in Eastern Africa as an entry point to understand the complex relationship between social media and conflict.
The project will also establish the Social Media, Conflict and Migration Observatory as a unique platform to develop public and policy engagement and debate on critical issues related to social media, conflict, governance, and migration.
In June 2018 we convened a workshop on internet shutdowns in Africa with the University of Johannesburg’s School of Communication. This workshop brought together scholars from across the continent to discuss internet shutdowns in comparative perspective. Elections, the role of civil society groups, and the political motivations for shutdowns were discussed in depth. A report of the workshop will be available soon. The agenda is available here.