15 February 2021, Johannesburg - Does the development community contribute to stereotypical narratives about Africa? How is the continent represented in film, literature and spoken word poetry? How is the restitution of African art being discussed across Africa? These are some of the research topics that will be pursued by academics who have been selected to take part in the first Africa No Filter Academic Fellows Program.
The selected fellows will bring academic rigour and an evidence-based approach to African No Filter’s work to understand and shift harmful and stereotypical narratives about Africa. The Fellowship is part of a larger research agenda to understand narrative and its impact. It is co-funded by Facebook and supported by The African Union, AUDA-NEPAD and the New York-based Africa Centre.
The African fellows, who are based both on the continent and in the diaspora, will conduct research across more than 15 African countries. And while the story-telling mediums and topics they will study differ, outcomes will have the same impact: they will offer a broader picture of how Africans talk about each other, and how those from outside Africa talk about us – especially in China and the Middle East.
Each scholar will receive a bursary of $7,000 for their research. Scholars will also be provided with opportunities to network, develop academic writing skills, publish academic writing, and build a media profile.
“Thanks to our funders and partners, we are able to bring together some of the continent’s brightest academics to help interrogate the stories and resulting narratives that persist about Africa,” says Moky Makura, executive director at Africa No Filter. “This is one of the most focused academic interventions on African narratives and will provide a significant contribution to the knowledge we have about how Africa and its 54 countries are portrayed across various platforms. It's a great opportunity to put African academics at the forefront of applying new thinking to narrative change on the continent.”
The Africa No Filter Emerging Scholar fellows are:
1. Fungai Machirori (Zimbabwean) is undertaking her PhD at the University of Technology Sydney in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Her study examines digital cosmopolitanism among African youth on TikTok and Instagram.
2. Gideon Chitanga (Zimbabwean) is a PhD student in the University of Pretoria’s Department of Political Science. He will compare narratives disseminated by CNN International, China Global Television Network, and Al Jazeera.
3. Kofi Asihene (Ghanaian) is a second-year PhD student at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. He will be studying representations of Africa in spoken word poetry.
4. Gladys Kalichini (Zambia) is a PhD candidate in Art History at Rhodes University in South Africa. Her research will look at trending visual representations of African women on social media.
5. Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang (Ghanaian) earned his PhD from West Virginia University in 2017 and lectures at the University of Ghana's Department of English. He will examine how short story writers articulate African narratives online.
6. Babajide Owoyele (Nigerian) is a dual PhD candidate at the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions and the chairperson of Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Systems at Hasso Plattner Institute. He will data-mine various platforms to explore how financial institutions contribute to narratives about Africa.
7. Molemo Moiloa (South African) lectures at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she received her Master’s degree in Social Anthropology cum laude. Her study explores how art and artefact restitution is being discussed across the continent.
8. Loubna El-Mkaouar (Moroccan), who has a PhD from the University of Westminster, will research how African mainstream media and social media users cover African conflicts in Africa by analysing the border disputes in countries such as Western Sahara and the Nile water dispute between Egypt and Sudan.
9. Mphathisi Ndlovu (Zimbabwean) graduated with PhD in Journalism from Stellenbosch University, South Africa in 2016, and currently teaches at the National University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe. Working with Maame Nikabs, he will explore narratives about Covid-19.
10. Maame Nikabs (Ghanaian) completed her PhD in linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London in 2020, where she lectures. Working with Mphathisi Ndlovu, her project will explore Western and African media and development narratives about Covid-19.
11. Daniel Oloo (Kenyan) is a PhD candidate and a research fellow at the Institute of Communication Studies at the Communication University of China. He will be studying African Facebook posts’ comments sections to probe how Africans are talking about other African countries.
About Africa No Filter:
Africa No Filter is a donor collaborative that’s working to shift stereotypical and harmful narratives within and about Africa. Through research, grant-making and advocacy our objective is to build the field of narrative change-makers by supporting storytellers, investing in media platforms and driving disruption campaigns. The donor collaborative is funded by Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Luminate, Open Society Foundations, Comic Relief, the Hilton Foundation and the British Council.
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