Digital Media Literacies in Africa: Call for Papers
A great deal of scholarly attention has been given to media literacy in recent years, as shown by the numerous books and journal articles published on the topic over the past decade. Yet much of this research examines media literacy in the European, Asian, and American contexts. Africa, by contrast, has been given scant attention. The recent Wiley Blackwell International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy, for example, has a range of case studies, none of which comes from Africa. Within the research literature, two broad approaches are noticeable. One looks at media literacy from the point of view of “skills” (such as news literacy and how to spot propaganda or fake news) while the other is concerned with how to develop “critical” media literacies (for example, understanding how media ownership shapes news content). However, due to the development of ICTs and social media, media literacy concepts and research foci have expanded dramatically over the past two decades. For example, Keener & West (2021) identify media literacies as including issues such as traditional news literacy; digital citizenship; digital literacy; information literacy; media arts; and technological media literacy.
Despite differences in approach to media literacy, the overarching goal of media literacy scholarship and advocacy is to empower media users, enabling them to understand the complexities of media production and consumption as well as the implications of media for individuals and society at large. Ultimately, we argue with Lewis and Jhally (2006) that the primary aim of media literacy education is to create more sophisticated citizens, rather than sophisticated media consumers.
What is interesting from our current African context is the particular variety and distribution of media that are available due to our colonial past; and how these are made part of social life in contexts of deep inequalities. Given this history and the inequalities that shape how we are able to access and interact with the media – whether “legacy” or digital media – we ask: “what does it mean – and take – to be media literate in Africa today?” What research there is, appears contradictory: de Laneroll, Walton, and Schoon (2020) for example argue that despite the enormous challenges of being “less connected” in African contexts of economic and infrastructural inequality, people are highly skilled and resourceful in order to overcome their digital limitations. In contrast, research that is interested in a developmental agenda tends to stress the importance of media literacy, particularly in the context of growing disinformation and misinformation spread via digital media platforms. For example, the recent Covid-19 pandemic brought media literacy in Africa into sharp focus, particularly with the creation and spread of disinformation and misinformation about the virus and efforts to combat it (Cunliffe-Jones, et al, 2021). In this unique seven-country study, Cunliffe-Jones et al. conclude that misinformation literacy is barely taught in Africa.
Given this paucity of scholarship about media literacy in Africa, especially in relation to the complexity of our media landscape, as well as digital inequalities and its impacts on Africans as media users (producers and consumers) in the age of rising internet connectivity, social media, information overload, disinformation and misinformation, this call for paper is targeted at understanding themes such as:
- Journalism and digital media literacy in Africa
- Youth digital media literacy education in Africa
- Youth, social media and self-representation
- Media literacy, cyberbullying, sexting, trolling, phishing and media addiction
- Digital media literacy, gender and body-image positivity
- Media literacy education in African countries
- Media literacy in African contexts of socio-economic inequality
- Media literacy and digital inequalities in Africa
- Power and hegemony in legacy and digital media in Africa
- Media literacy, dis/misinformation and fact-checking in African contexts
- Media literacy and African citizenship education
- Media literacy, political communication and propaganda in Africa
- Media literacy and digital media activism in Africa
- Innovative indigenous digital media literacy practices in Africa
- Media literacy and health communication
- Digital advertising and disinformation
- Digital literacy and COVID-19
Interested researchers and practitioners are invited to submit an abstract of 350 words clearly explaining the details of their proposed contributions in line with the theme and any of the subthemes for this project by 1 February 2023. Abstracts should be emailed to: (digitalliteracies /at/ ru.ac.za)
Contributors will be notified about the status of their abstracts by 17 February 2023.
Full papers are expected to be submitted by 31 May 2023
The journal will be published online by 1 February 2024
You may view the special edition page on African Journalism Studies: Digital Media Literacies in Africa at https://bit.ly/Digital_Media_Literacies
All interested authors must consult the guidelines for manuscript submissions at https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?show=instructions&journalCode=recq21
All contributions will be subjected to a double-blind review process.
No Article Processing Charges apply to /African Jouranlism Studies/.