• Academic,  Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Twitter Hashtags in Kenya

    Melissa Tully and I are excited to be included in the latest issue of Information Technologies & International Development. It is a special issue about expanding the domain of ICT4D research to consider leisure and other non-utilitarian activities. As the guest editors Payal Arora and Nimmi Rangaswamy explain in the introduction, “adopting a narrow development lens can miss the actual engagements and ingenious strategies marginal populations use to instate technologies into their everyday.” Our contribution is titled “Sites of Playful Engagement: Twitter Hashtags as Spaces of Leisure and Development in Kenya” (open access). Here, we look at how Kenyans use hashtags to engage in serious conversations and exchange jokes, often at the same time. Here’s…

  • Kenya

    A Primer on Kenyan Music Videos

    I’m working on a new research project that examines music video production in Kenya. In June, I was able to spend a few weeks in Nairobi interviewing several music video directors (and a few others: assistants, musicians, DJs, etc.). I’ll write more about this project in the future, but I wanted to offer my thanks to the incredibly talented and equally busy folks who took the time to speak with me. It isn’t lost on me that these individuals had little to gain from participating in these interviews. The least I can do is write a few words to promote their work on this site. For each director, I’ve selected one video that resonated with me.…

  • Academic,  Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Taking on the Kibera Discourse

    Before I visited Kibera for the first time in 2009, I tried to read and watch as much as I could to better understand the community. Much of what I consumed was from international news and academic journals, which largely focused on health, crime, and housing issues in Kibera. After spending some time on the ground getting to know residents and seeing how the community worked, I came to realize that, while these issues are real and significant,  they are only part of Kibera’s story. Like people everywhere, Kibera residents live complicated lives filled with joys, sorrow, boredom, and pain. I have a new article in Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies that is my…

  • Academic,  Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Researcher Identity in Ethnographic Study

    I recently published an article in Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture that considers the place of identity in ethnographic research. Stemming from my dissertation research on community media in Nairobi’s slums, I wanted to do some self-reflection to consider how my identity was used strategically (by myself and others) during the course of my fieldwork, and how identity management and use is complicated by the digital age. The abstract for the article “Negotiating the researcher: Interstitial, appropriated, and digital identities in media production ethnography” is below: While all people form, exhibit, and use multiple identities, the hybridity of identity plays an integral role in the production of ethnographic knowledge. This article…

  • Academic,  Highlights,  Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Participatory Culture in Kenya

    Melissa Tully and I have a new article out in Critical Studies in Media Communication about the one and only Makmende. If you’re not familiar with Makmende, you should watch this video immediately. Melissa and I were both in Kenya doing research on other topics when Makmende became the hot topic online and in public. The video and the resulting meme caught our attention. If Kenyan bloggers and international news organizations like the Wall Street Journal and CNN were discussing Makmende as Kenya’s first internet sensation, we wanted to know why this video, why now, and what does this all say about contemporary Kenya? Our article, “Makmende Amerudi: Kenya’s Collective Reimagining…

  • Academic,  Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Community Journalism in Kibera

    I have a new article in Journalism Practice about the difficulties of doing community journalism in places like Kibera. The article is titled “‘I Wish They Knew that We are Doing This for Them’: Participation and resistance in African community journalism” and will appear in an upcoming special issue on “Community journalism midst media revolution” edited by Sue Robinson. Here’s the abstract: This article examines the relationship between community journalists and residents in Kibera, a sizable slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Focusing on two videojournalism initiatives, this research explores the structural and cultural features of Kibera that impacted residents’ participation and nonparticipation in these projects. Findings reveal that many residents were unfamiliar with…

  • Academic,  Kenya,  Publications

    New Chapter: Media Authorship in Kibera

    I’m beyond excited to have a chapter in the new volume A Companion to Media Authorship, edited by Jonathan Gray and Derek Johnson. The chapter, “Telling Whose Stories? Re-examining Author Agency in Self-Representational Media in the Slums of Nairobi,” offers an overview of the work I did for my dissertation. It looks at the creative and constraining forces working at multiple levels of analysis for young journalists and filmmakers in Kibera and Mathare. Yes, the book is pricey at the moment, so tell your library to pick up a copy or wait for the cheaper paperback version to come out. Big thanks to Jonathan and Derek. It’s an honor to see my name listed…

  • Academic,  Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Entertainment-Education and Online Cocreation

    This is a belated notice, but Melissa Tully and I have a new article published in Television & New Media that looks at the Kenyan television show The Team and its online campaign to engage viewers in a discussion about national unity. Here’s the abstract from “The Team Online: Entertainment-Education, Social Media, and Cocreated Messages“: This article examines an entertainment-education program, The Team, which began airing in Kenya after the 2007–2008 postelection violence. The show promotes cooperation and national unity among Kenyans through the metaphor of Kenya as a football (soccer) team. The focus of this article is twofold: viewers’ identification with and reaction to certain morally ambiguous characters and audience members’ interaction with the program…

  • Kenya

    Letters from Kibera (1950 edition)

    I apologize for the year-long sabbatical from the blog. I can’t promise to be more regular, but I’ll try. I’m back in Kenya for 5 weeks this summer, and this time I’ve gotten the chance to spend some time in the Kenya National Archives. There are some great finds in there concerning the history of Kibera and Mathare, as well as some other gems about the growth of media industries in Kenya. Anyway, I thought I’d share this one letter that really struck me today. Around 1950, the British government was developing plans to move the Sudanese (Nubians) out of Kibera. The plan was to relocate this group to Kibiko,…

  • Academic,  Kenya

    Dissertation? Check.

    A few weeks ago, I successfully defended and deposited my dissertation. I have since moved from Madison to my new home, Iowa City, where I am now an assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at The University of Iowa. I am excited and humbled to have this opportunity, to say the least. My dissertation, as now filed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School is titled “Creativity and Constraint in Self-Representational Media: A Production Ethnography of Visual Storytelling in a Nairobi Slum.” Here’s the abstract: This study is a media production ethnography of members of a marginalized community constructing and telling stories using visual media. It…