New book on ‘Media, Conflict and the State in Africa’ by Nicole Stremlau

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 website launched

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.

On the website, you will find more information about the research questions and the project team. If you have any questions, comments or feedback, please feel free to send the project team a message.

New Position: Postdoc in Media Law and Policy

We are delighted to announce a new and exciting opportunity to join the PCMLP and CSLS as a postdoc in media law and policy.  This research fellowship is an outstanding opportunity for early career researchers to pursue a research project and contribute to the Programme. Further details are available here.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Wednesday, 25 July 2018.  Interviews are to be held on Tuesday, 21 August 2018.

Internet Shutdowns in Africa Workshop

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.

Research Assistants for ERC ConflictNet project

Nicole Stremlau currently seeking two research assistants to join the project ConflictNet. This is a new 5-year project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) that examines the role of social media in conflict in Africa.  The project will focus on questions social media and migration away from conflict; of online hate speech and the perpetuation of violence; and the efforts by companies, governments and individuals to shape and extend the internet in Africa.  We will shortly be launching a new website for the project but in the meantime a summary is available here.

Further details about the Research Assistant positions please visit: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/content/research-assistant-conflictnet

Deadline date for applications is Thursday 26th April 2018.

 

An-Ox Media Policy Summer Institute

The Annenberg-Oxford Summer Institute is open for applications! Come join us for our 20th year anniversary.  To find out more and apply please visit this page.

CFP: Internet Shutdowns in Africa Workshop

Workshop to be held from June 7-8, 2018 at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa

DEADLINE for CFP: March 15, 2018

The Internet Shutdowns in Africa conference is a two-day programme aimed at sparking in-depth and productive conversations about the rise of internet shutdowns on the continent. It is organized by the ERC-funded ConflictNet programme at the University of Oxford’s Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, the Bonavero Institute for Human Rights, and the Department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg’s School of Communication.  The conference is convened by Nicole Stremlau and Eleanor Marchant.

There has been a dramatic increase in internet shutdowns in Africa. In 2016, the number of shutdowns doubled from the previous year, affecting citizens in 11 countries on the continent. And while the number of shutdowns declined slightly in 2017, governments that resorted to disrupting the internet did so more frequently and for longer periods of time. From anti-government protests to Cameroon, to exam cheating in Ethiopia, concerns of election related violence in Uganda, and quelling social unrest in Zimbabwe, the justifications are diverse.

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New book published: Speech and Society in Turbulent Times

We are pleased to announce the publication of Speech and Society in Turbulent Times: Freedom of Expression in Comparative Perspective, edited by Monroe Price and Nicole Stremlau, and published by Cambridge University Press.  This volume brings together an exciting group of authors to examine how societies are addressing challenging questions about the relationship between expression, traditional and society values, and the transformations introduced by new information communications technologies.  It adopts an eclectic approach, identifying alternative approaches to the role of speech and expression, examining how societies or communities have drawn on the ideas of philosophers, religious leaders or politicians, both historical and contemporary, that have addressed questions of speech, government, order and freedoms.  The goal is to both unpack the ‘normative’ internet and free expression debate and to deepen understanding about why certain policies and models are being pursued in very different local or national contexts, as well as on a global level.  The chapters and contributors are below.

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PCMLP Panels at the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa

PCMLP will have a strong presence at the upcoming Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa to be hosted in Johannesburg, September 26-28th.  We will be organizing panels on Innovation in Somalia, participating on Internet policymaking panels, and Dr Gagliardone will have a book launch for his recent publication The Politics of Technology in Africa, published by CUP. Tickets are free and available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/forum-on-internet-freedom-in-africa-2017-fifafrica17-tickets-35750264002

Nicole Stremlau awarded an ERC grant for ConflictNet

Nicole Stremlau has been awarded a 1.5 million euro grant from the European Research Council for research on the Politics and Practice of Social Media in Conflict. This project starts in August 2017 and will run for 5 years.  A brief summary follows:

Over the next five years an unprecedented number of initiatives will coalesce, contributing to an extension of the reach of the Internet to the world’s most remote regions. While previous efforts to expand Internet access have focused on urban areas, current initiatives are leveraging new technologies from drones to satellites to provide affordable access to the worlds poorest, many of whom are in Africa and live in regions where the state is weak and there is protracted violent conflict. Current debates have largely focused on technical issues of improving access, or assumed ways that technology will help ‘liberate’ populations or improve governance. This project focuses on a key puzzle that is often overlooked: How does increased access to social media affect the balance between peace-building efforts and attempts perpetuate violence in conflict-affected communities?

With a focus on Africa (and particularly on religious and political violence in Eastern Africa), this project will investigate the relationship between social media and conflict through three research questions at the macro, meso and micro level: how are social media altering the transnational dimensions of conflict and peacebuilding? How are public authorities reacting to, and appropriating, social media to either encourage violence or promote peace? And in what ways are social media changing the way people experience, participate in, or respond to violent conflict? It will examine these questions in the context of dangerous speech online; the exit and entry of individuals to conflict; the tactics and strategies actors adopt to shape the Internet; and how governance actors are leveraging social media in conflict-affected communities.