• Academic,  Highlights,  Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Music Videos, Global Imaginaries and Frictions

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been studying Kenyan music videos. My first article from this research project, “Global frictions and the production of locality in Kenya’s music video industry,” was just published online at Media, Culture & Society. I’m really excited about this piece, and I hope that it will be useful to other scholars of global media. The article’s main contribution is an analytical framework for studying global cultural production. Here are the main points: People feel a sense of belonging with those outside their direct proximity. This is illustrated nicely by Benedict Anderson’s book Imagined Communities and also by Charles Taylor’s book Modern Social Imaginaries. Within the context of globalization, Manfred Steger and others…

  • Kenya,  Publications

    New Article: Touring Slums and Telling Stories (About Ourselves)

    Five years ago, when wrapping up fieldwork in Kibera, I blogged about the controversy surrounding slum tourism. While many Kibera residents resent the fact that so many foreigners tour their community, a few told me they believed there would be less misunderstanding if more outsiders visited Kibera. In a previous article, I discussed the complex feelings residents have about their home community and, in doing so, tried to challenge the dominant discourse about slums. In a new article, titled “Ironic Encounters: Posthumanitarian Storytelling in Slum Tourist Media,” David Tuwei and I look at the stories slum tourists are telling about their encounters with global poverty. The article examines three texts produced by tourists of Kibera: the BBC special Famous, Rich…

  • Kenya

    Economic Ingenuity among Nairobi’s Poor

    A recent story in the The Standard details the various ways Nairobi’s low-income earners maximize their earning potential and spending power. The article, “How Thriving ‘Reject Economy’ is Allowing the Poor to Live High Life of the Rich,” by Dominic Omondi looks beyond the “Dollar a Day” trope to reveal the economic ingenuity of Nairobi’s underclass. A few of the examples: Getting discounted prices for cracked eggs, bruised vegetables, misshapen bread, and defective clothing Finding deals from street vendors and informal markets Recovering and washing discarded, but still trendy, hair weaves Selling old newspapers by the page to butchers and shopkeepers Buying scrap electronics for pennies, fixing them, and selling them for a sizable profit During my fieldwork, I became fascinated by the economics of Kibera. Inside Kibera, there…

  • 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…