Stremlau, Gagliardone and Fantini Publish in Third World Quarterly

Nicole Stremlau, Emanuele Fantini and Iginio Gagliardone have recently published Patronage, Politics and Performance: Radio Call-in Programmes and the Myth of Accountability in the leading journal, Third World Quarterly. This article draws on extensive research in the Somali Territories.  Free download of this article available for a limited time.

An abstract follows:

The role of media in promoting political accountability and citizen participation is a central issue in governance debates. Drawing on research into the interactions between radio station owners, journalists, audiences and public authorities during Somali radio call-in programmes we argue that these programmes do not simply offer a new platform for citizens to challenge those who are governing but that they are also spaces where existing power structures reproduce themselves in new forms. We identify the ways the programmes are structured and the different motivations the audience has for participation. Three types of programmes are identified and their relationships with patronage, politics, and performance are examined. Rather than focusing on normative assumptions about the media as a tool of accountability, the article emphasises the importance of understanding radio programmes in their social and political environment, including the overlapping relationships between on-air and off-air networks.


Registration for the Price Moot Court is Now Open

We are delighted to announce the 2015-16 mooting calendar. We have an exciting series of Regional Rounds lined up – from South Asia to South East Europe.  This year’s case addresses challenging and contemporary issues of online hate speech.  Full details of the programme and information about registration can be found the on the Price Moot Court website.  We look forward to seeing you soon!


New UNESCO Study on Countering Online Hatespeech

UNESCO has just launched a study on Countering Online Hate Speech we have been working on in the past few months by Iginio Gagliardone (in collaboration with Danit Gal, Thiago Alves, and Gabriela Martinez) which offers a global overview of the dynamics characterizing hate speech online and some of the measures that have been adopted to counteract and mitigate it. While the study provides a comprehensive analysis of the international, regional and national normative frameworks developed to address hate speech online, and their repercussions for freedom of expression, it places particular emphasis on social and non-regulatory mechanisms that can help to counter the production, dissemination and impact of hateful messages online.

Four main areas of tension arising between the international standards aimed to regulate freedom of expression and the obligations of states and societies to counter or limit hate speech are addressed in the study. It analyses, first, the definition of the hate speech; second, the jurisdiction of the national governments and the role of transnational companies; third, the character of hate speech online and its relation to offline speech and action; and fourth, it identifies a variety of methods that have been used to address specific and contextual problems.

The study focuses on four types of initiatives that have been launched to counteract the emergence and/or the spreading of hateful messages: i) research efforts to monitor how hate speech online emerges and spreads, developing early warning systems and methods to distinguish among different typologies of speech acts; ii) coordinated actions by members of the civil society seeking to create national and international coalitions to address emergent threats connecting online hatred and violence offline; iii) initiatives to encourage social networking platforms and Internet Service Providers to play a more robust role in actively responding to hate speech online; and iv) media literacy campaigns and initiatives aimed at preparing users to interpret and react to hateful messages. Building on these cases the study provided for a set of recommendations that can be adopted by a variety of stakeholders to develop practical and tailored responses.

New Report with Chatham House Published on Cyber Security in Eastern Africa

This paper analyzes continuities and discontinuities of collective efforts toward enhanced cyber security in Eastern Africa, with a particular focus on Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. Focusing on the challenges that have followed the contours of East Africa’s distinctive digital cultures, it challenges the view that cyber security and cyber resilience are simply technical problems that can be solved by reducing the gap with more technically advanced nations. On the contrary, it shows how cyber security is an inherently political challenge and that, in the absence of adequate checks and balances, the increasing securitization of domestic and international politics may require costly trade-offs with individual and collective freedoms.
Three concepts are suggested — emulation, extraversion and enculturation — that can serve to better capture how Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have respectively answered emerging cyber threats. These concepts, rather than adding to the already abundant jargon in this area, are simply meant to encourage analysts to pay greater attention to how the technical, social and political interact in unique ways and produce distinctive outcomes in each national context. In Kenya, public and private actors have sought to live up to international standards, keeping up with the country’s reputation as a regional information and communication technology (ICT) powerhouse, but it is unclear how such an ambitious agenda will find concrete applications. In Ethiopia, there is the risk that the need to guarantee better cyber security can further legitimize repressive measures in the new media sector. Finally, in Somalia, in the absence of a functioning state, hybrid solutions have been found that connect traditional practices and new technologies to offer some level of certainty to individuals using services that are vital for the region, such as local and international payments over mobile phones.


Webcasts of the ICT4D Seminar Series now available

We had a terrific line up of speakers for our Hilary Term ICT4D seminar series, organized in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute and the Department of International Development. We are delighted that all of the webcasts are now available online for those of you that were not able to attend. Please check them out here:

About the ICT 4 D Seminar Series:

This seminar series gathers leading scholars and practitioners to reflect on the influence of new communication technologies on development processes. The seminars will focus on the dramatic changes in citizens’ ability to coordinate and mobilize for political action, on global migration and its relation to digital media, and on how international and national actors are seeking to shape the applications of technology and communication. The series provides a focus point for academics and non-academics in Oxford who are interested in the challenges and opportunities of employing new communication technologies in development contexts.

The series is organized by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP), the Department of International Development (ODID) and the Technology & Management for Development Centre (TMD) at the University of Oxford, and co-convened by Dr Iginio Gagliardone and Dr Mark Graham.

Iginio Gagliardone publishes in New Media and Society

Iginio Gagliardone’s new article in New Media & Society charts new ways to understand the relationship between new communication technologies and governance in Africa. It explains how the ‘liberation technology’ agenda that has dominated most debates on the transformative power of new technologies has failed to take into account the variety of actors and networks that intervene in shaping governance processes in Africa, alongside or in competition with the state. Through an ethnography of two local radio stations in Kenya, his article offers a more realistic picture of mobile–radio interactions and their repercussions on governance. The findings illustrate that (1) while these interactive spaces are open to all listeners with access to a phone, they are in practice inhabited by small cohorts of recurrent characters often connected to existing power structures; (2) even in places where basic services are offered by actors other than the state, including non-governmental organizations and criminal networks, the state continues to represent the imagined figure to which listeners address most of their demands; (3) in contrast to the expectations that authorities will act on claims and grievances made public through the media, other factors, including ethnicity, intervene in facilitating or preventing action.

The article can be accessed at

The University of the Philippines wins the 2015 International Rounds of the Price Media Law Moot Court

The 8th annual International Rounds of the Price Media Law Moot Court Competition saw the team from the Philippines earn the overall winner title after a strong final match against the team from Singapore Management University. The two teams had faced Florida International University, USA and National Law University, Jodhpur, India respectively in the semi-finals.

In addition to the best memorials and top oralist prizes, the Price Moot presented this year’s Jonathan Blake Spirit of the Competition Award to Zeina Ayyad and Wafaa Saadeh from Birzeit University, Palestine for their outstanding performance in the Middle East Regional Rounds.

To read more about the 2015 International Rounds (including the events and workshops that took place alongside the competition) and to view the full results, please visit this page.

Latest updates on the Media, Conflict and Democratization project

For the latest information on the EU FP7 project on Media, Conflict and Democratization (MeCoDEM) check out the MeCoDEM website. Research emerging from this project will be posted here, along with events and other resources.  PCMLP is pleased to be leading Work Package 6 on Government Communication and directing the Kenya country team research.  Further information can be found here: 

Mapping and Analysing Hate Speech Online: Opportunities and Challenges for Ethiopia

PCMLP, in collaboration with Addis Ababa University, has published a new report that offers a set of innovative conceptual and methodological tools to address the emergence and proliferation of hate speech online.

The issue of hate speech is complex – it serves as an illuminative lens for researchers and practitioners, governments and citizens, as well as perpetrators and victims, to consider some of the key paradigms that underpin models of statehood and democracy. The problem becomes all the more pressing and salient in deeply divided societies that are transitioning to democracy. In such contexts and in fragile environments, political entrepreneurs are able to politicise longstanding socio-economic inequalities that mobilise deeply entrenched feeling of injustice, domination and persecution towards certain demographic and social groups, with the ultimate objective of perpetrating systematic, targeted and widespread violence. Furthermore, as access to the internet changes the ways in which individuals and groups communicate, and produces new spaces for dialogue and exchange, it also brings with it risks and concerns over the ways in which these spaces may be instrumentalised for violent ends.

This working paper provides a framework through which hate speech which emerges and is disseminated online can be identified and analysed. The aims of this working paper are twofold.

Firstly, it is meant to provide an introductory guide for those interested in mapping and analysing hate speech, especially as communicated through online media and in divided societies. Section 1 offers an overview of the recent debates over the definition of hate speech, both from a scholarly and legal perspective. It briefly examines how different actors, from international bodies to national legislators and online companies, have sought to regulate and counteract hate speech, and stresses the importance of balancing competing principles to advance social inclusiveness as a “public good”. Section 2 surveys different methodological tools that can be adopted to map and analyse hate speech and the trade-offs between the ability of providing a contextually grounded analysis of instances of hate speech and the possibility of processing large volumes of data. It also offers concrete case studies of projects which have innovatively analysed hate speech both online and offline.

The second aim is to interrogate how a rigorous and academically informed analysis of hate speech can offer a novel terrain for engagement among different actors in divided societies, with a particular focus on Ethiopia. As it has been the case in other societies fractured across ethnic, political, and religious lines, at critical times such as before an election accusations of inciting hatred have been made by different actors to attack their opponents. The concept of hate speech advanced in these instances has tended to be boundless and to reflect more the interests and concerns of those referring to an act as hateful or able to incite hatred, rather than being based on an agreed definition. Section 3 reflects on the importance of bringing different actors around the same table, from members of the government and the opposition to bloggers supporting agendas at different ends of the political spectrum, and to engage in debates that can ultimately bound them to a shared definition of what is and what is not speech that can promote hate and violence, and to collectively recognize and develop measures to counteract it. A shared, academically rigorous and contextually grounded definition of hate speech and the mapping of instances that fall under it can help preventing governments and other political actors from politicising speech acts. Together with the analysis of how individuals are already opening spaces for dialogue on different platforms, it can offer a novel way to map where risks lie and where, on the contrary, people should be allowed to voice their opinions. In countries like Ethiopia, where calls for respecting and enforcing freedom of expression coming from external organizations, including human rights groups and donors, have tended to be ignored, this approach can open a new avenue for allowing dialogue among different forces in society, and with it a basis for a strong and vibrant democracy. The paper concludes by outlining the principles that should inform this new research agenda, aimed at mitigating ethnic, political and social fissures underlying debates on hate speech.

Download : Ethiopia hate speech

Call for chapter proposals: ICTs, Governance & Peacebuilding in Africa

New information technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones hold great potential to affect peacebuilding, statebuilding, governance, transparency, and accountability in Africa. ICTs ubiquity and ability to interact with older media enables citizens to experiment with innovative ways of influencing politics.  Despite strong assertions in the existing research regarding the usefulness of ICTs (and media more generally) in political and post-conflict transition, governance, and development, there is very little understanding of how people and communities in Africa actually use these ICTs, and how these uses contribute to governance and peacebuilding.

The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the University of Oxford are currently seeking papers for a forthcoming workshop and an edited volume. Authors are asked to provide critical analyses of how the public uses, makes sense of, and engages with ICTs, and the relationship between ICTs, the public, and governance or peacebuilding. Strong preference will be given to chapters that provide empirical evidence for the arguments put forth. Analyses should be applicable to Africa, and chapters focused on Eastern Africa are especially welcome. Academics from African universities are particularly encouraged to apply.

Funding will be provided for successful authors to attend the workshop, which will be held either in New York, USA or Oxford, UK in June or July 2014.

For chapters incorporating empirical research, we are particularly interested in qualitative methodologies (case studies, ethnography, interviews, etc.) but all approaches are acceptable.

Contributions may focus on, but are not limited to:

  • The use of crowd-sourcing in conflict-affected regions
  • The role of ICTs in accountability or transparency initiatives
  • Local perspectives on citizen ‘voice’ and the use of ICTs
  • The use of ICTs in transitional justice processes
  • The intersection or merging of old and new technologies to impact peacebuilding or governance
  • ICT innovation at the grassroots level

Abstracts (max. 2000 words) and author biography (max. 100 words) are due by March 6, 2014.

Please send abstracts, as well as any questions, to Libby Morgan at

Notification of selected authors: March 20, 2014

Deadline for submission of rough papers in APA format: June 15, 2014

Deadline for submission of final papers in APA format (6,000-8,000 words): August 15, 2014

This book is being funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and is part of a multi-year research project on ICTs, Statebuilding and Peacebuilding in Eastern Africa.