The Media Studies department is excited to welcome two new staff members.
Dr Dee Marco and Katlego Disemelo
The Media Studies department is proud to announce that its senior lecturer Dr Ufuoma Akpojivi has won the prestigious VC award for teaching!
Well done indeed Ufuoma.
The Media Studies department is very pleased to announce that Dr Kate Skinner has passed her PhD. Big congrats to Kate and her supervisor Prof Tawana Kupe.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT MEDIA STUDIES HONOURS ADMISSIONS
The Honours programme in Media Studies at Wits University is extremely popular and consistently has far more applicants than places. Space on the course is limited because all students require supervision for their research essays from properly qualified academics.
The minimum requirement for entry to this programme is 65% for third year Media Studies or a related subject and 65% for third year overall. However attaining these marks does not guarantee that you will be offered a place on this course. Offers are made first to students with higher marks (70%+), while students in the 65-69% bracket are either waitlisted or have decisions deferred until their final results are released, depending on whether they are internal or external applicants. The number of waitlisted and deferred applicants who receive offers depends on how many highest-ranking students apply.
We strongly suggest that students apply for more than Honours course, so those who do not receive a firm offer from Media Studies still have an option of doing a postgraduate degree in 2018. This applies equally to those who have received provisional offers, as lower marks in the second semester may mean that you are not offered a firm place on the course. Other departments within the School of Languages, Literature and Media offer outstanding Honours programmes, some of which have slightly less strict entry criteria. Students must apply for the Postgraduate Merit Award (PMA) when applying for Honours. You do not need a formal offer in order to apply for this bursary.
Humanities Graduate Centre
Transforming the Humanities through Interdisciplinary Knowledge THInK 2018 DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIPS: CALL FOR APPLICATIONS
A Doctoral Fellowship Programme for a New Generation of Scholars
The Humanities Graduate Centre in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand is pleased to announce the third annual call for applications for a uniquely exciting doctoral fellowship programme, generously funded by the Mellon Foundation. Known as 'THInK' or 'Transforming the Humanities through Interdisciplinary Knowledge', and directed by Professor Eric Worby, the programme aims to support and stimulate innovative doctoral scholarship. Each year we select for funding and participation a small, talented, and intellectually ambitious cohort of doctoral candidates. We seek individuals who have the originality of vision, the passion for scholarship, and the breadth of imagination to work beyond conventional disciplinary boundaries in ways that will build a distinctive future for the humanities and social sciences in Africa.
The THInK Fellowship
THInK Doctoral Fellows are funded for four years at the doctoral level followed by a fifth post-doctoral year (contingent upon the successful and timeous completion of the PhD). Funding comprises a basic annual stipend (valued at R125 000 in 2018), as well as limited additional funding to cover the costs of scholarly resources, such as books and a laptop, as well as field research expenses, writing retreats and conference attendance.
THInK Fellows are based at the Humanities Graduate Centre, where they take part in a PhD Lab, collaborating to shape innovative scholarly projects and events for doctoral students across the Faculty. This involves the convening of reading groups, writing retreats, and scholarly colloquia as well as seminars for the presentation of doctoral work-in- progress. Fellows also contribute to the design and implementation of new curricula and pedagogies, which may involve some teaching, in the Faculty of Humanities at Wits in the third and fourth year of the Fellowship.
While the thesis topics pursued by THInK Fellows are expected to range widely across the contemporary African humanities and social sciences, fellowships will only be offered to those who demonstrably seek to make a significant, original and transdisciplinary intervention in social, cultural, political and/or aesthetic theory. Fellows will be expected to demonstrate that they have the capacity and intention to engage in an ambitious and self- motivated programme of reading and writing, as well as scholarly argumentation and reflection throughout the duration of the Fellowship.
The Humanities Graduate Centre
The THInK programme supports doctoral scholarship in the Faculty of Humanities through fellowships based at the Humanities Graduate Centre at Wits University. The Humanities Graduate Centre has pioneered the provision of intellectual support to postgraduate students in South Africa, especially doctoral candidates in the Humanities and Social Sciences. It is designed to help constitute and nourish a new generation of diverse Africa- based scholars.
At the time of application for a THInK Fellowship:
*Applicants must have already graduated, or be scheduled for graduation, with a Masters degree from any university no later than 31 December 2017. Students who are already enrolled for the doctorate in any School in the Faculty of Humanities at WIts are eligible to apply, but only if they first registered for the PhD after 30 June 2017*
*Applicants must propose doctoral research that will make an original conceptual or theoretical intervention, and, in its broadest aspects, that will hold the promise of reshaping the contours of knowledge in the African humanities and social sciences. Applicants who do not show how their doctoral research might make a substantial theoretical and/or conceptual contribution will not be considered.
*Priority will be given to black South African, and particularly black African South African, applicants. Outstanding students from elsewhere on the African continent are, however, welcome to apply.
* Please note that, at the time of application, applicants do not have to be accepted into, nor do they have to be registered in, a PhD programme in the Faculty at Wits. However, please see below for conditions relating to acceptance and registration into a PhD programme at the time of accepting an award.
At the time of accepting an offer of a THInK Fellowship:
*Fellows must be admitted into, and be registered full-time for, a PhD in an academic programme in any School in the Faculty of Humanities at Wits.
In those cases where a THInK Fellowship is offered, but the student has not yet applied for or received admission to a PhD programme, the THInK programme will provide assistance with the application process. Where a THInK Fellowship is offered and a student has already secured acceptance into, or has been registered in, a PhD programme, supervisory arrangements will be subject to negotiation with the student and the PhD programme concerned. Please note that the offer of a THInK Fellowship does not constitute or guarantee acceptance into a PhD programme.
v While in principle THInK Fellows are not precluded from receiving other funding, all such funding applied for and/or received must be disclosed at the time of application. THInK Fellows are expected to be fully committed to the Fellowship programme, and any other funding or employment with requirements that prevent such a commitment may result in the Fellowship being withdrawn. It is the applicant's responsibility to check whether other funding awarded to them has any caps, restrictions, or requirements that would make them ineligible for the THInK Fellowship, or that would inhibit their full- time commitment to the programme.
CV with full contact details
An intellectual autobiography of about 500 words. This should indicate how, or in response to what influences, your intellectual trajectory has taken shape thus far, while also addressing your future scholarly ambitions.
A preliminary statement of doctoral research interests of about 1,000 words. The statement should indicate (a) the puzzle or problem that the research will address; (b) the conceptual or theoretical terrain in which the research promises to make an original intervention; (c) the possible range of intellectual resources or scholarly genealogies upon which the research will draw; (d) the ways in which the research is conceived to contribute to the reshaping or transcending of current disciplinary knowledge.
An electronic copy of the final version of your Master's research report or dissertation (in other words, the version submitted for final archiving following examination and the making of any subsequent corrections).
In addition to the above application materials to be sent by the applicant, every application must also include the following to be sent separately:
A recommendation letter from the supervisor of your Masters research report or dissertation that discusses the merits of your scholarship at Masters level and your scholarly potential, and
A recommendation letter from any other person deeply acquainted with your academic work and who can attest to your scholarly potential.
Both recommendation letters are to be sent directly and separately by the supervisor and the referee to the email address listed above before the application deadline, and should put the candidate's name in the subject heading of the email to which the recommendation letter is attached as follows: THInK 2018 Recommendation - Candidate's Name.
Applications in which any of the above required application materials have not been submitted by the deadline will not be considered, and no further correspondence will be entered into.
Transforming the Humanities through Interdisciplinary Knowledge
Humanities Graduate Centre
Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand
Iginio Gagliardone featured on CNBC to discuss the increasing role China is playing in the information and communication technology sector in Africa. Speaking alongside other scholars and experts, he stressed how China has made the difference in emerging markets like Ethiopia’s, but is playing a significant role in most countries in Africa. Iginio's work has also been used by the tech team of CNBC to offer a broader picture of how other emerging actors, such as Korea Telecom, are increasingly investing in Africa's information societies. Iginio is currently working on a manuscript with ZED Publishers on China’s role in shaping information societies in Africa.
Faculty Teaching and Learning Award
Dr. Ufuoma Akpojivi is one of the 2017 recipients of the Faculty of Humanities Teaching and Learning Award for undergraduate teaching. According to the selection committee, they were really impressed with his considered approach to student learning at Wits. "It was particularly noted how your innovative pedagogical approaches were fostering critical thinking and transformation. The integration of African scholars and modes of thought were seen as particularly important in light of calls for decolonisation. Finally, your interest and efforts in contributing to the scholarship of teaching and learning through seeking out opportunities to write on your practice and ideas and through engaging in the PG Dip Higher Education is exactly what we aspire for colleagues in the Faculty."
Prof Nicky Falkof, HOD at Media Studies, was awarded a Research Excellence Award for Early Career/Emerging Researchers at the National Research Foundation annual awards ceremony in Bloemfontein on 14 September. She was one of two winners of the award in 2017, along with Dr Musa Manzi from the Wits School of Geosciences. The award recognises exceptional research performance by NRF Thuthuka grant holders.
See the video
DIGITAL ACTIVISM IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA ERA: CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON EMERGING TRENDS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
Bruce Mutsvairo (ed.)
Palgrave Macmillan. 2016. 341 pp. ISBN: 978-3-319-40948-1
Digital Activism in the Social Media Era: Critical Re ections on Emerging Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa is a volume edited by Bruce Mutsvairo with a collection of essays on digital activism in sub-Saharan Africa. This book comes at a time when critical re ection and insightful analysis of digital media experiences are most needed in sub- Saharan Africa. In the foreword section of this book written by Herman Wasserman, the purpose of the book is summed up as: collating experiences of digital media from different countries in Africa, their political environment, what drives activism while also exploring new theoretical and presenting an overview of methodological approaches for examining digital activism. While scholarly research on sub-Saharan Africa has focused on a range of experiences with digital media, there is no suf cient literature on the use of digital media for activism, and this is the gap the book is attempting to ll. Recognition of the mobile phone as the most important digital platform in contemporary Africa, the proliferation of which remains an example of how media technologies can be adopted to suit speci c contexts, is well articulated by the authors in this volume. According to Wasserman, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp accessed through mobile phones have not only become a space for alternative voices away from mainstream media agendas but also important platforms for socio-political deliberations, and important tools for mobilisation purposes by activists.
This book has a total of fteen chapters, divided into three parts (Political Engagements in Mediated Online Communities, Digital Transformations: Civic
of south africa
African Journalism Studies
Volume 38 | Number 1 | 2017 | pp. 152–155 http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/recq21/current
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23743670.2017.1329249 Print ISSN 2374-3670 | Online 2374-3689 © 2017 iMasa
Reviewed by Job Mwaura Digital Activism in the Social Media Era
Activism in the Africa Blogsphere, and Gender and LGTB Movements Online: Emerging Debates). The rst part of this book highlights the potential nature of digital media as a space for political deliberations and a tool of mobilisation for activists. It crafts this using various cases which highlight how social media has been used by various socio-political movements such as Zone 9 bloggers (A group of 9 bloggers in Ethiopia who wrote blogs for activism) and Baba Jukwa (A blog that exposes corruption in Zimbabwe) as well as a platform for political deliberations in countries such as Uganda and Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone particularly, social media discourses on Facebook and Twitter contributed to the sacking of Vice President Sam Sumana (Chapter 5). Such a case sheds more light on the importance of political engagement in sub-Saharan Africa mediated online communities. One important strength in this part of the book is the clear discussion on the potential of user-generated-content on social media to transform socio-political environment of different countries in Africa (Chapters 2, 3 and 5). The transformation of activism to a more individualised form through social media networks as highlighted in (Chapter 4) con rms Castells' (2015) views that power in contemporary society lies in the interactions of networks created online. Different authors in this section have also managed to highlight how African governments are increasingly clamping down the internet and its various applications as well attempting to silence democratic oppositions, civil rights groups and activists' mobilisation against poor governance.
The second part of the book (titled Digital Transformations: Civic Activism in the Africa Blogsphere) discusses the transformative potential of civic engagement by online communities in pushing for socio-political change. The book highlights the #Fe esMustFall/#MustFall/#RhodesMustFall (Student-led movements that were ghting for decolonisation of South African universities as well as reduction of university fees) as movements that have attempted to push for change using social media tools. The authors in this section also discuss how the internet has provided a platform for civic participation, where it has been termed a contemporary public sphere, thus advancing Jurgen Habermas' theory of the public sphere. One weakness in this section is that it is dominated by cases from South Africa, much to the exclusion of cases and experiences from elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. The discussion on the use of social media for civic engagement in Kenya and the citing of cases such as #OccupyPlayGround (a movement that formed to protest the grabbing of a school playground in Nairobi by powerful individuals in government) could have been fascinating in this context.
The third part of the book (Gender and LGTB Movements Online: Emerging Debates) is dedicated to emerging gender issues as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. This section particularly highlights how the LGBT community uses digital media to ght for their rights. In one of the chapters by Mhiripiri and Moyo, titled "A Resilient Unwanted Civil Society: The Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe Use of Facebook as Alternative Public Sphere in a Dominant Homophobic Society", the authors discuss how members of the LGBT community in Zimbabwe transitioned from the use of printed literature to the use of social media platforms. This
Reviewed by Job Mwaura Digital Activism in the Social Media Era
is after the Zimbabwean government banned the use of such literature and prohibited their exhibition at a book fair.
The homophobic heterosexual community in Zimbabwe also torched their literature. Social media such as Facebook has thus offered an alternative place for communication and advocacy for the Zimbabwean queer community. The next chapter by Currier and Moreau, titled "Digital Strategies and African LGBTI Organizing," recognises the importance of digital media as a tool for mobilisation during activism and a place where members of the LGBT community can access information. The authors, however, warn against exclusive use of social media as it could be used to perpetuate the circulation of false news about the LGBT community due to its instantaneous transmission. This part is also dominated by discussions of LGBT in Southern Africa (Zimbabwe and South Africa) with very little mention of other geographical regions in Africa. The adoption of an anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda in 2009, which caused an international outcry and sparked intense debate in the media, including social media, would have been an interesting inclusion in this part of the book.
In addition, part three of this book also discusses gender movements that have emerged in recent years in sub-Saharan Africa. Mpofu's chapter titled "Blogging, Feminism and the Politics of Participation: The Case of Her Zimbabwe" highlights the potential of the internet as a tool of empowerment of women in Zimbabwe through an internet site called "Her Zimbabwe." Here, women can access and articulate their issues which are largely ignored by the mainstream media. Mutopo's chapter in the same part, titled "Gender and Media Representations of Land Based Reforms in Zimbabwe," discusses women's rights in land matters and analyses the biased reporting by state- owned media on land matters in Zimbabwe. A chapter on the #Bringbackourgirls movement by Dorothy Njoroge concludes this edited volume. While the discussion of these emerging gender issues is important in African society where gender disparity has not been overcome, there are a few notable shortcomings that have emerged in this section. Chapter 14 is completely unrelated to digital activism or gender-related movements in sub-Saharan Africa. Discussions on sexual harassment online and subsequent activist-related activities such as #MyDressMyChoice (A Kenya campaign against sexual harassment by public transport crew) could have provided better material in this section titled Gender and LGTB Movements Online: Emerging Debates. Although the #WomensMarch (A global protest that took place on January 21st 2017 against anti- women statements attributed to President Donald Trump, amongst other gender issues) occurred after this book was published, related movements that have emerged from online communities in the past would have made the book much more comprehensive.
Generally, this edited book is an important contribution to literature on digital media in Africa. This is primarily because the continent has witnessed a proliferation of digital tools (social media networks) in recent years and their importance in political transformation has just begun to attract scholarly interest. Further, the discussion of a wide range of cases of digital activism from sub-Saharan Africa provides strong
Reviewed by Job Mwaura Digital Activism in the Social Media Era
evidence for claims by a number of authors (such as Iginio Gagliardone, Glenda Daniels and Tanja Bosch) that political participation in virtual communities can be a catalyst for political transformation.
In addition to concerns raised in every section of the book, some of the chapters adopted a less preferred research method in social sciences – quantitative research. While using a range of methodologies could be seen as a strength of this book, the mere counting of words such as in tweets overlooks the deeper analysis of discourses happening online. The danger of this is that some information could be missed out, such as the reason why a certain phrase appeared frequently on social media networks, the motivation for using such phrases and even perceptions may not be easily unpacked. I feel that such concerns need to be addressed in future. Despite these minor issues, I would recommend the book to anyone interested in studying African media, especially digital activism, or to anyone looking for material on media in sub-Saharan Africa.
Castells, M. 2015. Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Cambridge: Polity Press.
JOB MWAURA is a Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He is researching on Digital Activism in Kenya. His research interests include Social Media Studies, Online Activism, Citizen Journalism and Media and Democracy.