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[Commlist] Call for proposals: Media, social movements and protest cultures in Africa

Mon Mar 15 14:02:11 GMT 2021

*Book project *

*Call for proposals (NB: No payment from authors/APC will be required)*


*Media, social movements and protest cultures in Africa*

Social movements are not a new phenomenon in African societies. These social movements, as is the global trend, have used and continue to use different strategies and media such as blogs, social media, underground newspapers and radio, posters, t-shirts, street theatre, art, mural, music and street posters and pamphlets to send their messages across (see Lee and Chan 2011; Willems 2011). It is social and other popular political movements that are credited with bringing about different types of revolutions and change especially during colonial times leading to independence (Taylor 1997). The liberation and accompanying social movements in Africa are peculiar and different from all others across the globe: they were born as protests and resistance to colonial oppression. They may share the same characteristics with others in that they started off being led organically from the bottom by ordinary people in a quest to change the trajectory of their lives. These movements faced different challenges in spreading their messages as the colonial governments used the press for control, suppression and assimilation in the case of the French. The British, according to Nyamnjoh (2005) were a bit liberal in allowing black cultural (and yet not critical) content in some of the publications. They used different media such as missionary newspapers sympathetic to the black people’s cause as was the case in West Africa (Nyamnjoh 2005), underground radio and newspapers in Rhodesia and South Africa (Kirk 1975; Smith 2013). Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper in Nigeria is credited with bringing up a culture of black protest in in the mid-20^th century. His newspaper gave space for disruptive articulations of independence to the black educated elite most of whom returning home from the west where they had acquired an education.

Africa has for a long time been characterised by political upheavals owing to bad governance and authoritarian rule which has threatened the democracy that, in most cases, came through sacrifice and protest. Thus, a clarion call to democratize the continent has dominated the region for many years as societies feel that their liberators have become tyrants and derailed the train of liberation, democracy, decolonization and economically deprived the masses of a decent life. Thus, this betrayal has seen the people resisting liberation movements who, in most cases have held on to power through hook and crook. The resistance has come through voting against these liberation movements who, through the power of incumbency and accruing advantages, have managed to rig elections or intimidate voters into voting for them. In some instances, there has been a rise of opposition political parties composed of mainly young people and progressive forces eager to change the direction of the country. In other countries coups have been instigated as an alternative to getting rid of these liberation movements from power. Recent developments, inspired by the growth of the internets as a cheaper and unbounded transnational medium of communication, there has been a rise of social movements organized around different interests. Globally we have seen the hashtag movements, most of which are leaderless or led from below such as Occupy movements, #BlackLivesMatter movement agitating for the equal treatment of blacks especially in the USA. Women’s organizations and other progressive forces have also coalesced around unique interests like the #MeToo movement. In Africa there has been the Arab Springs associated movements which led to the overthrow of political leaders in Tunisia and Egypt; and #EndSars and #BringBackOurGirls in Nigeria which agitated against police abuse and terror group, Boko Haram’s abduction of school girls. Elsewhere there have been such social movements and protests called #ThisFlag (Mpofu and Mare 2020) #MugabeMustGo and #ZimbabweanLivesMatter which put to the fore the political abuses of citizens in the liberation movement led country. Elsewhere #FeesMustFall, #RhodesMustFall changed the face of South African student politics in relation to the state when students protested for free and decolonized education (Mpofu 2017).  Abahlali basemjondolo, a South African social movement concerned with decent housing for poor Khayelitsha residents has also changed the face of government and citizen relations.

In this milieu, different forms of media, as the voice of the voiceless and oppressors have been playing a part in engaging with the ruling elites and or defending them. For some, there have been using different forms of media to protest and demand a return of normality in societies.  The media holds an important place in social movements and protests because it empowers the marginalised to air their views and raise awareness for others to have access into their world. However, the status- quo can also use the media to thwart voices of dissent or distort their voices. Despite the latter perspective, different forms of media ranging from mainstream press to social media, graffiti, clothes, music, soccer and among others have been used by African citizens to protest, and call for change.

In this proposed edited collection, we therefore call for chapters with interest in case studies of different forms of media and protest cultures used by social movements in Africa. The volume attempts to highlight and building new theoretical insights in understanding the intersection between media, social movements and protest cultures in Africa. The volume is mindful of the view that social movements and protest cultures are not new in Africa, but the growth in digital cultures have also led to new protest cultures which authors can also engage in. Contributions solicited are expected to cover but are not limited to the suggested areas below:

vMedia and social movements and politics of protest in Africa

vHistory of social movements in Africa

vSocial movements communication strategies

vSocial movements, solidarities and protest cultures

vSocial movements, and visual cultures in protest

vMainstream media, social movements and protests

vThe state, social movements and protest cultures

vSuppression and the birth of social movements

vSuppression and protest cultures

vState actors’ propaganda and counter narratives against social movements

vSocial movements, protests and dissidence

vDiasporic media and protest in Africa

vTheoretical understanding of protest cultures in Africa

vHumour and Satire

vProtest movements groups and the media

vMusic, sports and protest cultures

vArt and graffiti in protest

vState surveillance and social movements

Submission details:

Please email chapter proposals of up to 500 words in length, as well as a brief author biographical information, to the editors at (tshumalungile /at/ <mailto:(tshumalungile /at/>and (shepherd.mpofu /at/ <mailto:(shepherd.mpofu /at/>.These should be sent through by the 30th of April 2021. Decisions on proposals will be made and communicated to authors around May 20, 2021.

Book Editors:

Lungile Tshuma

Shepherd Mpofu

Trust Mastilele

Mbongeni Msimanga


Kirk, T. 1975. Politics of violence in Rhodesia. /African Affairs 74 (294):/ 3-38.

Lee, F.L.F and Chan, J.M. 2011. /Media, social mobilization and mass protests in post-colonial Hong Kong. /London: Routledge.

Mpofu, S.**and**Mare, A. 2020. #ThisFlag: Social media and cyber-protests in Zimbabwe. (pp. 153-172). In Martin Ndlela, /Social Media and Elections in Africa Vol 2/. Palgrave Macmillan.

Mpofu, S. 2017. Disruption as a communicative strategy: The case of #feesMustfall and #rhodesMustfall students’ protests in South Africa. Journal of African Media Studies 9(2): 351-373.

Nyamnjoh, F. B. 2005. /Africa’s media: Democracy and the politics of belonging./ New York: Zed Books.

Smith, C.A. 2013. Radio Freedom: A History of South African Underground Radio. <>.

Taylor, V. The trajectory of National liberation and social movements: The South African experience. /Community Development Journal 32(3):/ 252-265.

Willems, W. Social movement media, post-apartheid (South Africa). In J. Downing (Ed) /Encyclopedia of social movement media. /London: Sage. P. 492-495.

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