Soc15
Foreign powers, journalism and the new scramble for Africa

Convenors:
Kate Wright (University of Edinburgh)
Stream:
Sociology
Location:
50 George Square, G.06
Thursday 13 June, 8:45-10:30

Short abstract:

This panel aims to explore the media texts, production practices, and political economies of African news - defined as journalism which is for or about African countries. Its focus is on the interaction of sub-Saharan actors with the contemporary and/or historical intervention of foreign powers.

Long abstract:

Since the imperial era, foreign powers have sought to shape news for and about African countries, as a means of extending their influence within the continent. Today we see three state-funded broadcasters going head to head in a competition to dominate the provisions of African news: China, Qatar and the UK. At the same time, international wire agencies are locked in a struggle with one another for the provision of financial news about the continent's emerging markets, in what is sometimes openly referred to as the 'new scramble for Africa'. What do these developments mean for the depiction of African countries and businesses? How have sub-Saharan and/or diasporic journalists, PR professionals and media audiences responded? How have these international developments interacted with domestic issues, such as precarious media labour, financial instability, censorship and other forms of risk? Finally, what do the lessons of the past have to teach us about the current imbrication of political and economic interests in the journalistic coverage of 'Africa'? This panel invites researchers to explore these mediated connections and disruptions by interrogating the intersection of sub-Saharan and foreign interests in relation to the media texts, production practices, and political economies of African news. We welcome paper proposals which analyse the constraints and opportunities afforded by the current flurry of international interest in African news; the agentive strategies employed by African and diasporic media actors in response; as well as those which make comparisons with historical case studies.