[Air-L] Digital Media Literacy in Africa - call for papers

P Boshoff p.a.boshoff at ru.ac.za
Thu Jan 26 22:09:29 PST 2023

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
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 by 15 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
All interested authors must consult the guidelines for manuscript
submissions at
All contributions will be subjected to a double-blind review process.
No Article Processing Charges apply to *African Journalism Studies*.

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