South Africa, Makhanda (Grahamstown)

UNESCO Chair of Media and Democracy

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Description and Mandate of the Chair

The Chair seeks to explore the complex and ever evolving relationship between Media and Democracy in its various facets, e.g. media freedom, civic participation and election monitoring. Since its inception, the advent of digital media presented new opportunities and unexpected challenges.

The research of the Chair focuses on issues of access, voice and power with particular attention to the Global South and covering a wide range of topics.  At the theoretical level, established concepts such as that of (digital) public sphere are interrogated and problematised within a decolonial perspective.  Consistent with an understanding of Global South not as a geographical location but as a condition of suffering, struggle and resistance such a perspective foregrounds a concern with rising inequalities (e.g. in terms of socio-economic status, age, gender, sexual orientation, language, (dis)ability etc) which, in different parts of the World, result in oppression, exploitation and social upheaval.  Of particular significance is the emergence of a critical perspective towards the role of social media platforms as potential tools for surveillance, disinformation and exploitation.

Hosting within the School of Journalism and media Studies at Rhodes University in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) in the predominantly rural Eastern Cape Province of South Africa provides the Chair with a unique epistemological position at the interface between Global scholarship and a challenging local reality.

Firmly rooted in the African context, the vibrant research, teaching and community engagement culture of the School supports collaboration with externally-funded projects and participation in national as well as international networks.

(Ver. 07-2021)

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