New Media Practices in a Changing Africa’ is a multi-disciplinary project, involving 8 researchers and 7 institutions in 5 countries with funding from the Research Council of Norway, FRIPRO programme.
This research project examines new media practices in Africa and their relation to processes of change on the continent. Africa has experienced a relatively consistent economic growth, suggesting that broader social transformations are unfolding. In addition, the continent is in the middle of a digital media revolution. It is more than likely that there is a causal relationship between the two but there is very little knowledge as to how these processes are linked.
New media are rapidly spreading on the African continent. The web is becoming increasingly more individualised, dialogical and commercialised. We observe a mushrooming of social media accessed on user-friendly and mobile platforms. We witness a change to a situation in which interactive ICTs are becoming an ingrained part of most people’s lives. Communication between close and distant others related to economic concerns, information gathering, community matters, global networking, politics and identity all increasingly involve digital mediation.
Over the course of three years, this comparative project will carry out pioneering and innovative research on the social effects of the rapid spread of new media in Africa. Featured country case studies include Botswana, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. With practice theory as an analytical foundation, the aim of the project is to generate knowledge that is useful for understanding the social and economic developments that Africa is currently going through.
For more information on this project, please visit www.mediafrica.no.
Head of Research team, Zambia
Dr Wendy Willems is Assistant Professor in the LSE Department of Media and Communications. Her research interests include global digital culture and social change; postcolonial/decolonial approaches to media and communications; media culture and neoliberalism in the Global South; and popular culture, performance and politics in Africa. She holds a PhD in Media and Film Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She joined the LSE Department of Media and Communications in January 2013. Prior to that, she was Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa (2010-2012). In 2006, she co-founded the Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS) with Dr Winston Mano from the University of Westminster.
For more information on Dr Willems’ contribution to this project, visit
Willems, W. and Mano, W. (forthcoming 2016). Everyday media culture in Africa: audiences and users. London: Routledge, https://www.routledge.com/Everyday-Media-Culture-in-Africa-Audiences-and-Users/Willems-Mano/p/book/9781138202849
Civic agency in Africa: arts of resistance in the 21st century
Obadare, Ebenezer and Willems, Wendy, eds. (2014) Civic agency in Africa: arts of resistance in the 21st century. James Currey, Oxford, UK. ISBN 9781847010865
Peer-reviewed Journal Articles
Participation – in what? Radio, convergence and the corporate logic of audience input through new media in Zambia
Willems, Wendy (2013) Participation – in what? Radio, convergence and the corporate logic of audience input through new media in Zambia. Telematics and Informatics, 30 (3). pp. 223-231. ISSN 0736-5853
Willems, W. and Mano, W. (forthcoming 2016). Decolonizing and provincializing audience and internet studies: contextual approaches from African vantage points. In: W. Willems and W. Mano (eds.),Everyday media culture in Africa: audiences and users. London: Routledge, https://www.routledge.com/Everyday-Media-Culture-in-Africa-Audiences-and-Users/Willems-Mano/p/book/9781138202849
Social media, platform power and (mis)information in Zambia’s recent elections
Facebook live-streaming, drones and swag selfies: youth culture and visual social media in #ZambiaDecides
Beyond Free Basics: Facebook, data bundles and Zambia’s social media internet