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LCS-MC201 African Media, Communication and Society in a Global Age

Recent developments suggest that the African continent is no longer merely at the receiving end of Western media and technology but is actively shaping its own communicative ecologies. The liberalisation of Africa’s media landscape has given way to new privately-owned newspapers, radio and television stations which is changing the relation between the state, media and political parties. Despite persistent digital divides, the tremendous increase in mobile phone use is not only impacting the lives of ordinary people but is also transforming the way in which journalists operate. Nigeria’s video industry and a rising number of pan-African news media channels are beginning to offer alternatives to dominant Western cultural forms. China’s growing presence in Africa is altering patterns of trade, aid and media assistance, while at the same time contributing to sharply divided global media debates.

This course examines these recent changes and explores the role of old and new media in transforming and communicating politics, development and social change on the African continent. Drawing on a range of cases from different parts of Africa, the course introduces students to key concepts and critical theoretical perspectives in political communication, global media studies, and development communication. The first part of the course situates African media within a global context and examines contesting media narratives of Africa, the impact of changing geopolitical relations on media landscapes, the role of media in citizen participation and the impact of mobile phones on social relations in everyday contexts. The second part of the course examines the history of African media, the governance and regulation of media, the role of media in elections and nationalism, and the way in which new media are transforming the practice of journalism.

Full course outline

About the Instructors


Dr Wallace Chuma is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT). His research interests include media policy and regulation in Africa, political communication and media framing. Before joining UCT in 2004, Chuma practised journalism in Zimbabwe, Botswana and the United States.

He received his doctorate from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and is co-editor of Media policy in a changing Southern Africa: Critical reflections on media reforms in the global age (2010, Pretoria: UNISA). 


Dr Wendy Willems is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Her research interests include critical approaches to media, communication and development; and new media and social change. Before joining the LSE in 2013, she taught at the University of Westminster in London, University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and Midlands State University in Zimbabwe.

She is Associate Editor of the Journal of African Media Studies, and holds a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. She is co-editor of Civic agency in Africa: arts of resistance in the twenty-first century (2014, Oxford: James Currey).