Decolonising digital media research methods: positioning African digital experiences as epistemic sites of knowledge production

Schoon, A., Mabweazara, H. M. , Bosch, T. and Dugmore, H. (2020) Decolonising digital media research methods: positioning African digital experiences as epistemic sites of knowledge production. African Journalism Studies, 41(4), pp. 1-15. (doi: 10.1080/23743670.2020.1865645)

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This introductory essay argues for a decolonial approach that privileges qualitative methods in ways that position African digital experiences as “epistemic sites” of knowledge production in their own right in digital media scholarship. In proffering this argument, we challenge and confront elements of the global knowledge system, which are driven by an implicit “civilising mission” in which methods and intellectual approaches drawn from the West are seen as sacrosanct, while approaches and concepts emerging from the Global South are deemed to have a lower ontological density in the hierarchical ordering of knowledge. We explore methodological questions that relate to the studies carried in this Special Issue and consider various strategies for aligning digital media scholarship with Southern epistemologies—whether these are found in the “epistemologies of everyday” popular culture or epistemologies emerging through the work of African activists and artists. Equally, we emphasise the value of methods that pay attention to issues of power and economic extraction to understand the very different roles of social media platforms in various African countries. The paper also considers how the precarious and contingent nature of infrastructure and African cities in general demands methods that pay attention to issues of digital materiality and infrastructure. Finally, we discuss Big Data methods and the need for African researchers to establish themselves more firmly in this space.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mabweazara, Dr Hayes
Authors: Schoon, A., Mabweazara, H. M., Bosch, T., and Dugmore, H.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:African Journalism Studies
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):2374-3689
Published Online:28 January 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 iMasa
First Published:First published in African Journalism Studies 41(4):1-15
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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