Publics in Africa in a Digital Age  book cover
1st Edition

Publics in Africa in a Digital Age

ISBN 9780367715267
Published September 7, 2021 by Routledge
226 Pages

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Book Description

Across Africa, digital media are providing scholars with a reason and opportunity for revisiting the question, and the analytical lens, of publics with new vigour and less normative baggage. This book brings together a rich set of empirically grounded analyses of the diverse digital spaces and networks of communication springing up across the Eastern African region.

The contributions offer a plural set of reflections on whether and how we can usefully think about these spaces and networks as convening publics, where citizens come together to discuss matters of common interest. The authors make clear the need to unshackle such studies from slavish acceptance of outsiders’ prescriptions on what constitutes desirable publics. They highlight the importance of being attentive to rapidly changing everyday realities across Africa in which people are coming together around the circulation of ideas in ways that include digital means of communications. In so doing, the contributions bring forward new ways of thinking about, through and with publics, alongside other heritages in Africanist scholarship that have continued salience. Looking outwards from the region, such different perspectives on our digitally mediated world offer theoretical novelty that advances how we think about the notion of publics and their political significance.

This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Eastern African Studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Rethinking publics in Africa in a digital age

Sharath Srinivasan, Stephanie Diepeveen and George Hamandishe Karekwaivanane

2. From baraza to cyberbaraza: interrogating publics in the context of the 2015 Zanzibar electoral impasse

Irene Brunotti

3. Knowledge and legitimacy: the fragility of digital mobilisation in Sudan

Siri Lamoureaux and Timm Sureau

4. ‘Tapanduka Zvamuchese’: Facebook, ‘unruly publics’, and Zimbabwean politics

George Hamandishe Karekwaivanane

5. Social diary and news production: authorship and readership in social media during Kenya’s 2007 elections

Inge Brinkman

6. Kuchu activism, queer sex-work and "lavender marriages," in Uganda’s virtual LGBT safe(r) spaces

Austin Bryan

7. Bringing The Daily Mail to Africa: entertainment websites and the creation of a digital youth public in post-genocide Rwanda

Andrea Mariko Grant

8. #Whatwouldmagufulido? Kenya’s digital "practices" and "individuation" as a (non)political act

George Ogola

9. News media and political contestation in the Somali territories: defining the parameters of a transnational digital public

Peter Chonka

10. The limits of publicity: Facebook and transformations of a public realm in Mombasa, Kenya

Stephanie Diepeveen

11. WhatsApp as ‘digital publics’: the Nakuru Analysts and the evolution of participation in county governance in Kenya

Duncan Omanga

12. A tale of two publics? Online politics in Ethiopia’s elections

Iginio Gagliardone, Nicole Stremlau and Gerawork Aynekulu

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Sharath Srinivasan is Co-Director of the University of Cambridge’s Centre of Governance and Human Rights, David and Elaine Potter Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies, and a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge.

Stephanie Diepeveen is Research Associate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge.

George Hamandishe Karekwaivanane is lecturer in the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh.