Dr Wendy Willems

Dr Wendy Willems

Associate Professor, Deputy Head of Department

Department of Media and Communications

020 7852 3738
Room No
Room PEL.7.01G
Office Hours
By appointment on Student Hub
Dutch, English
Key Expertise
Global Digital Culture; Postcolonial/Decolonial Approaches; Africa

About me

Dr Wendy Willems is Associate Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she also serves as Programme Director for the MSc Global Media and Communications (LSE and University of Cape Town).

She holds a PhD in Media and Film Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, a BSc/MSc in Economics ('International Economic Studies') and a BA/MA in Cultural Studies ('Cultuur- en Wetenschapsstudies') from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. Previously, she was Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa (2010-2012). She remains affiliated to the University of the Witwatersrand as an Honorary Research Fellow. She is one of the founding editors of the Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS), a peer-reviewed international journal that aims to contribute to the on-going re-positioning of media and cultural studies outside the Anglo-American axis.

Expertise Details

global digital culture and social change; urban communication; postcolonial/decolonial approaches to media and communication; popular culture; performance and politics in Africa; media culture and neoliberalism in the Global South


While Africa conventionally has been imagined as a place of ‘raw data’, Dr Willems' work treats the continent as a starting point for theorising media and communications. Her research engages with the politics of global academic knowledge production and ongoing debates on the ‘internationalisation’, ‘de-westernisation’, or ‘decolonisation’ of the field of media and communication studies. Her research challenges the way in which the Global South has been framed in the subfields of comparative media studies, international communication and development communication. It also aims to reinscribe the marginalised research of African media and communication scholars as part of a broader global disciplinary history. Dr Willems is currently working on two monographs.

Her first book project, Postcolonial Publics, Mediated Encounters and the Performance of Resistance, offers a postcolonial/decolonial critique of arguments on the ‘global’ or ‘transnational’ public sphere. Arguing for a conceptual shift from ‘flows of information’ to ‘mediated encounters’, the book proposes that global media and communication studies engages more intimately with the legacy of colonial histories and their role in shaping publics in postcolonial contexts. Drawing on her research on the ‘Zimbabwe crisis’, the book examines a range of mediated encounters between ex-colony and ex-coloniser, the rulers and the ruled, and home-based and diasporic citizens. It demonstrates that global media discourse is no longer merely about the conveying of ‘news’ (if it ever was) but increasingly about the news itself and who deserves – or is entitled to – visibility in the public arena.

Her second book project, provisionally entitled Mobile Publics, Platform Power and Urban Civic Engagement, interrogates the relation between digital media and social change in Zambia through a global analytical lens. It aims to contribute to a better understanding of the evolving nature of the internet(s) in specific local contexts that are also undergoing other processes of change. For many users in the Global South, the internet is increasingly equal to a ‘social media internet’ that is largely accessed through mobile phones and shaped by powerful social media platforms for whom the Global South features as a key expansion ground in the face of saturating markets in the Global North. Based on fieldwork carried out in Lusaka, Zambia during elections in 2011 and 2016, this book examines the mobile, visual, temporal and ‘social’ affordances of digital culture and their political implications.


  • (2015-2018) New Media Practices in a Changing Africa, Norwegian Research Council (NRC) Principal investigator: Jo Helle Valle, co-investigators: Wendy Willems, Katrien Pype, Ardis Storm-Mathisen, Letshwiti Tutwanel, M. Mogalagwe, Jean Comaroff.
  • (2010-2012) ICT Policy and New Media Cultures, Open Society Initiative Southern Africa (OSISA), Principal investigator: Sarah Chiumbu, co-investigators: Last Moyo, Wendy Willems.
  • (2010-2011) Radio, Convergence and Development in Southern Africa, International Development Research Centre (IDRC) via Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada for, Principal investigator: Last Moyo, co-investigators: Sarah Chiumbu, Dina Ligaga, Wendy Willems.



  • Willems, W. and Mano, W. (eds.) (2016) Everyday media culture in Africa: audiences and users. Routledge Advances in Internationalizing Media Studies. London: Routledge.
  • Obadare, E. and Willems, W. (eds.) (2014) Civic agency in Africa: arts of resistance in the 21st century. Oxford: James Currey.

Other publications

View a comprehensive list of Dr Willems' publications.

Teaching and supervision

Postgraduate teaching

Dr Willems is Programme Director of the MSc Global Media and Communications (LSE and Univeristy of Cape Town) and and Interim Programme Director of the MSc Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC) in MT 2019. She convenes and teaches on Media and Globalization and Media Culture and Neoliberalism in the Global South. Dr Willems has also contributed lectures and seminars to team-taught postgraduate Media and Communications courses relating to theories and concepts (MC408/MC418), research methodologies (MC4M1/MC4M2) and global aspects of media and communication (MC407MC421). In 2018, she was awarded an LSE Major Review Teaching Prize.

Doctoral supervision

Dr Willems supervises doctoral researchers and welcomes applications from prospective students relating to her areas of research. Her current doctoral supervisees include Ram Bhat and Richard Stupart and Husseina Ahmed. She recently successfully supervised Dr Nicholas BenequistaDr Fabien Cante and Dr Alex Free to completion.