A Visit in the Promised Land – mHealth in context

A Visit in the Promised Land – mHealth in context

In development policy and public discourse mHealth is at times seen as the Promised Land. Something that potentially can cut at least 25% off health expenditure and improve health systems and the delivery of services to citizens. So what does the Promised Land look like from the point of view of those bringing it about?

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A great opportunity to learn about development in Africa

On December the 14th 2016, from 6 PM Morten Jerven, Economist and Professor in Development Studies at NMBU (Norway) and Grieve Chelwa, Economist and Post Doctor at Center for African Studies, Harvard University will meet to discuss economists (mis)understanding of Africa's economic development and what is acutally happening on the continent.

The seminar is open and hosted by Norwegian Concil for Africa and takes place in Kulturhuset, Youngstorget 3, 0181 Oslo.

Reflections on the richness of visual data at Visual Research Coference

Helle-Valle 1990, Botswana

Helle-Valle 1990, Botswana

Storm-Mathisen and Helle-Valle gave a talk, titled Visuality re-acting  at the Thirty-Second Annual Visual Research Conference, November 14-16, 2016, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Orgnizers and Chairs: Thomas D. Blakely, Andrea Heckman, Jerome Crowder.)

Read the abstract here.

Birthing Knowledge: the reluctant midwife

Birthing Knowledge: the reluctant midwife

“If you feel like you need to push, then you should push” I say. And she immediately starts pushing, her sister holding her halfway up behind her. “I don’t wanna do this,” I exclaim in panic, and I get up, walking a few steps away. Like, my whole being just wants to leave the room. “I can’t do this, I don’t wanna be here! I don’t want to be a midwife!” 

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Kampala: Network, connections, and the chain of the phone

Kampala: Network, connections, and the chain of the phone

I’m back in Kampala. I have been away for five years, and return now, to see people who have been my family and friends. I am of course worried; will they remember me? I better not impinge on their lives, just politely pass by. The city, however, has other plans.

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Inspiring workshop at Center for African Studies, Harvard

Robinson Hall, Harvard

Robinson Hall, Harvard

The Center for African Studies Workshop, taking place in Robinson Hall on campus and headed by Jean and John Comaroff, is a weekly event in which various scholars present work that in some way is related to Africa. This is an initiative that the Comaroffs brought with them from the University of Chicago to Harvard. It has become a hub of the Africanist melieu at Harvard, gathering both students, staff at the univerity as well as interested outsiders and visitors. In addition, the seminar is incorporated into undergraduate and graduate teaching at Department of African and African American Studies ands the papers are thoroughly discussed in classes beforehand. 

On the 26th of September 2016 Jo Helle-Valle gave a presentation, based on fieldwork over a quarter of a century in Botswana, titled "Seduced by Seduction - being a man in Botswana". (Read the abstract here.) The full paper was disseminated a week before to all members of the workshop. The workshop opened with the author presenting the paper's main argument and situating it within a wider academic landscape. Then dr. Lorena Rozzi, from Department of History at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, and a visiting scholar to Harvard, served as discussant before the floor was open for all.

Valuable comments will be incorporated into the reworking of the manuscript.

 

Facebook live-streaming, drones and swag selfies: youth culture and visual social media in #ZambiaDecides

Facebook live-streaming, drones and swag selfies: youth culture and visual social media in #ZambiaDecides

Digital technology is transforming the way in which elections are held globally, including on the African continent. With young voters comprising a substantial part of the electorate, political campaigning is increasingly shifting online. As LSE’s Wendy Willems argues in the second article of a series about the role of digital technology and social media in Zambia’s recent elections, political parties tapped into digital youth culture in a number of interesting ways.

 

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Do mobile phones set citizens free?

In postcolonial Kinshasa, citizens use mobile phones (and smartphones) are as tools to deceive the state but also to expose fraud. The Congolese government is also strongly aware of the revolutionary capacities of new media. In 2011, text messages were blocked; and in January 2015, the government shut the Internet for a few weeks, gradually opening up Internet while blocking social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Viber and Skype.

 

It is clear that political change on the continent is not only documented by citizens filming and photographing protest and abuse, but these also feed into the ways in which citizens and the state interact. One should however always be careful to situate these mass-mediated interactions within complex postcolonial histories of governance and political communication.

Read more in the blogpost on the SAPIENS website that discusses research on the embedment of mobile phones, and increasingly smartphones, in processes of political change

The blogpost is a summary of the academic article "‘[Not] talking like a Motorola’: mobile phone practices and politics of masking and unmasking in postcolonial Kinshasa" (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2016, 22 (3): 633-652)

writings on the wall - phone numbers as markers of belonging - Ndjili July 2014 (copyright Katrien Pype, 2012)

Kinshasa's elderly people dance in TV music shows to counter the negative stereotypes of "African elders"

Fieldwork on media participation among Kinshasa's elderly people has shown that they are not that invisible in the city's popular culture. Rather, TV dance shows in which elderly Kinois (inhabitants of Kinshasa) perform cha cha cha, bolero and rumba (among others) and in which they speak about the earliest days of Kinshasa's nightlife scene are important platforms through which the elderly communicate with the city at large, and especially with the youth's popular culture.

The study shows that elderly people are not necessarily passive consumers of media content, but actually contribute to TV and radio shows as well. 

The data are discussed in the academic journal article “Dancing to the Rhythm of Leopoldville: Nostalgia, urban critique and generational difference in Kinshasa’s Music TV Shows” 

The following four blogposts provide additional ethnographic and visual material:

1. Old age - Categories

2. Dancing elders

3. Papa Wemba and the confusion of generations

4. Photographing the Bana Leo shows 

 

 

filming a Bana Leo show (copyright Katrien Pype, 2012)

Social media, platform power and (mis)information in Zambia’s recent elections

Social media, platform power and (mis)information in Zambia’s recent elections

In this series of three articles, LSE’s Wendy Willems examines the role of digital technology and social media in Zambia’s recent elections. She situates this within the broader context of the African continent where both governments and mobile phone operators face a growing number of economic and political dilemmas in relation to the rise of social media.

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Visiting Scholar at Harvard University

The PI of the project, Prof. Jo Helle-Valle, has recently moved to Harvard University as a Visiting Scholar. The affilation will last until August 2017. Apart from working on data analysis of fieldwork material from Botswana, and manuscripts of various kinds, he will also be able to benefit from the exciting and vibrant academic mileu of Department of African and African American Studies at the African Studies Center.

Jean Comaroff, Alfred North Whitehead Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, Oppenheimer Fellow in African Studies, is affiliated to mediafrica. Her extraordinary competence on Southern Africa, and South Africa in particular, is an invaluable asset for the project.

Harvard in fall.jpg

Arrivals: the less innocent anthropologist

Arrivals: the less innocent anthropologist

Arrival at a new field site is for the ethnographer often characterized by an overwhelming amount of practical activities towards answering questions like these: Where am I? Do I live here? How do I protect my body and my equipment (and in the long term my mind) from the weather/wild animals/destruction by ritual sacrifice/theft? Can I sleep safely? Do I need to get around? How do I get around? Who do I talk to? How do I address them? How do I respond without facing sanctions? What is dangerous? What is safe? What is good?

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Innovative uses of our project's homepage

Informing the public about a research project, as well as keeping interested individuals and organisations oriented about the project’s ongoing activities are the principal functions of a project home page. These are important functions but not the only uses such pages can be put to. In Mediafrica we have taken the homepage’s functionalities a couple of steps further: First, we have now used it to launch a web survey in Botswana. And we have also opened the project's Facebook page as a platform for data collection.

On February the 19th 2016 we launched – with the very good help of Niels Theissen, the project's web editor – a survey by way of the homepage and our accompanying Facebook page. Such a task is not a walk in the park and a great deal of work was put into it. For one, the technical side must be functional and reliable; we must be sure that those taking part access the questionnaire and can complete it without much ado. Moreover, as it is a survey about and for people in Botswana we needed to make sure it only reached those living in Botswana.  It was also important that the questionnaire was designed and presented in ways that met sound methodological standards. And last, but not least, we needed to make the survey known and desirable to take part in. Two strategies were chosen; prizes were set up (three nice tablets) and solid PR. In addition to promoting the survey on Facebook, and making it public on the University of Botswana’s Blackboard, we chose to approach the largest privately owned radio station in Botswana, the Gabz FM. They met us with great enthusiasm. We wish to thank them for their very positive and creative response. Not only were they willing to give us airtime – on three different occactions actually – but they also gave advice to how to best promote the survey.

In addition, in order to spur the interest of possible respondents we launched 'teaserquestions' on our Facebook page every day for three weeks prior to the opening of the survey. The response to these questions have proved to be an interesting source of data for the project.

 As it is now nearing its closing date (18th of March), we can surely conclude that the web survey has been a great success. A lot of work has been put into it (and some trial and error) but it now seems that we will receive more than a thousand responses. Too early, of course, to say anything about the content but we look forward in anticipation to sit down and analyse the results. 

Web survey on new media and development in Botswana launched today

With strong support from Gabz FM we have launched a web survey on new media and development in Botswana. All Botswana residents are invited to take part, it will be open until the 18th of March and it takes no more than 10 minutes to complete. By taking part you give your contribution to a better understanding of how new media influence the development of Botswana. In addition you might be among the three lucky winners of a Lenovo tablet (Tab 2 A7 - 10). 

The winners will be drawn on air, by Petula and Gabriel!, on the 21st of March, and if possible they will call you up and congratulate you. Nice, eh?

Get started on the questionnaire today! 
http://www.mediafrica.no/survey

Invite your friends to participate in the questionnaire: 
https://www.facebook.com/events/1518708148424209/