African Studies Seminar: 'The politics of things’: digital media, urban space and the materiality of civic engagement - CANCELLED due to the severe weather conditions

Conveners: Wale Adebanwi and Katharina Oke

Speaker: Wendy Willems (London School of Economics)

‘The politics of things’ refers to the way in which objects and physical spaces remain crucial to political communication in a digital age as well as to the manner in which objects such as clothing and the built environment become politicized in particular contexts. Drawing on research carried out in Lusaka during the 2011 and 2016 Zambian elections, this paper proposes a material, mobile and spatial approach to political communication. Problematizing the polarized debate on the role of digital media during the Arab Spring, this article demonstrates how political communication is practiced both within physical spaces and at the intersection of the online and offline, shaped by similar logics of visuality and visibility.





Dr Wendy Willems is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research interests include global digital culture and social change; postcolonial/decolonial approaches to media and communications; media culture and neoliberalism in the Global South; and popular culture, performance and politics in Africa. Her research has been published in journals such as Communication TheoryPopular CommunicationTelematics and InformaticsWorld Development and Africa Development. She is co-editor of Civic Agency in Africa: Arts of Resistance in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford: James Currey, 2014) and Everyday Media Culture in Africa: Audiences and Users (London: Routledge, 2017).