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Friday, April 3, 2020

Call for Chapters: Edited Book on Social Media Censorship in Africa

Call for Chapters: Edited Book on Social Media Censorship in Africa

Editor: Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D., School of Communication and Media, Kennesaw State University, USA. Email: fkperogi@kennesaw.edu

Introduction
Africa used to be characterized as the abandoned child that vegetated on the desolate fringes of the information society. Emmanuel Castells (1998) even once characterized the continent as a constituent of the “black hole of informational capitalism.” However, the advent and democratization of the Internet and, with it, the evolution of social media have leapfrogged the continent to the global, internet-fueled network society. This fact has expanded and deepened Africa’s deliberative space, inspired digital activism, and enabled robust citizen participation in and engagement with governance. It has also animated social movements, actuated transnational connections, disrupted settled cultural certainties, and threatened the security and smug self-satisfaction of autocracies.


The centrality of social media in Africa is actuated by the enormous growth and explosion of mobile technology, particularly the rise of broadband technology, and the progressive lowering of the cost of access to the internet. Every projection for the future of Internet-ready mobile telephony in Africa points to the inexorable certainty of its continued growth and flowering and for the central role it will continue to play in powering Africa’s frenetic social media scene.

Nonetheless, amid the triumphalism that the expansion of the discursive space that social media has stirred is a potent threat from various African governments to constrict and constrain its luxuriance.  From Tanzania requiring bloggers to pay $900 a year for the privilege to blog, to Uganda imposing a tax on citizens to use social media, to Cameroon’s periodic shutting down of the internet to stall the spread of digital rebellion against the government, to various African leaders deploying surveillance technology to spy on citizens critical of governments, to restrictive laws designed to asphyxiate dissent in such countries as Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mali, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and other countries, there is a war on Internet freedom on the continent. This fact has also activated pushback against governments and has centralized a tensile push and pull between citizens and governments in the African public sphere. For instance, apart from creating transnational publicity against social media censorship, activists and everyday citizens have also embraced subversive technologies such as virtual private networks, or VPN, to circumvent government censorship.

No systematic scholarly inquiry has investigated this emergent phenomenon. An edited volume that aggregates the research of scholars from across the continent on social media uses in different African countries and the legal and extra-legal efforts governments have invented to contain the vibrance of the social media scene on the continent would be a significant contribution to the literature on social media activism, digital rebellion, discursive democracy in transitional societies, and censorship on the Internet. I invite contributions from scholars of different disciplinary and methodological orientations on various dimensions of the unfolding phenomenon of social media censorship from all regions of Africa.



Recommended topics:
Below are suggested, but by no means exhaustive, themes contributors are encouraged to explore:
·       Theoretical explorations of Internet censorship
·       Social media and government censorship
·       Case studies of anti-social media laws in African countries
·       The rhetoric of “fake news” as a smokescreen to muzzle critical voices on social media
·       Chinese influence in African governments’ clampdown on social media
·       Spyware attacks on social media activists
·       State cybersurveillance
·       Israeli NSO Group Technologies and digital espionage
·       Subversive technologies to circumvent social media censorship
·       WhatsApp as one of Africa’s most consequential social media platforms
·       Political dissidence on social media
·       Transnational social media activism
·       Bullying of voices of dissent on social media
·       State-sponsored troll factories on social media
·       The Panoptic gaze on social media
·       Social media and radical social movement

Target Audience
I solicit contributions that will deepen, broaden, and extend the disciplinary conversations on the intersections of social media use and government censorship. This volume will be helpful to scholars in communication, sociology, political science, African studies, etc., media professionals and policy makers, and everyday citizens who are interested in the emerging tensile stress between social media activism and governmental restrictions across Africa.

Timelines
Interested contributors should send a 250- to 350-word abstract of their proposed chapters and their short bios by or before May 1, 2020 to: fkperogi@kennesaw.edu

 Notification of acceptance or rejection: June 1, 2020

Submission of full chapters: September 30, 2020

Peer-review of contributions returned to authors: November 30, 2020

Revised contributions submission: January 5, 2021

The book is expected to be released in 2021

Publisher:
Routledge, a well-regarded British academic publisher, has accepted my proposal to publish the volume.