Conference organised by the Africa Media Centre, University of Westminster and Moi University, Kenya in association with the UK-Africa Media and Democracy Research Network
Date: Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 March 2014
Venue: University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London
Professor Kwame Karikari, Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), a Ghana-based media advocacy organisation whose vision is for a sub-region in which the fundamental human rights of freedom of thought and expression are guaranteed; and in which free mass media serve to bring to fulfilment all the other universally subscribed rights and freedoms for all persons. The Foundation pursues its objectives through activities that encourage collaboration with organisations and individuals working for the promotion of Media Rights and Freedom of Expression. (http://www.mediafound.org/).
This is the second call for a conference on media and elections in Africa. Elections are essential for democracy and yet in much of Africa they have become mere rituals whose conduct and result are most predictable. Voter apathy is a concern due to persistent problems such as electoral fraud, voter suppression and the resultant poll violence and loss of lives. New measures and strategies have done little to change
the course of the crisis. African elites, election observers, scholars and journalists have raised questions about whether elections are really important for African democracy. Why do Africa’s friends in the West insist on elections while China continues to place less emphasis on them? Are elections a precondition for protecting civil liberties? From Egypt to South Africa, citizens have been treated as subjects and bystanders of the electoral processes, resulting in the coming to power of illegitimate regimes characterised by tyranny, corruption, nepotism, ethnic persecution and gross human rights violations. The media are meant to be the eyes and ears of the emerging democracies in Africa but evidence shows that they are biased, inefficient and under resourced to the extent of neglecting their educational and informative roles before, during and after elections. Far from being watchdogs, the media have become lap dogs that are routinely manipulated by greedy and corrupt politicians and businessman seeking public office.
There are serious questions about how elections have become hijacked by local and global forces that are inimical to African emancipation. Who benefits from the elections? Whose voice is represented? Who speaks on behalf of whom? What role have the media played in elections? Can the media rescue the electoral politics in Africa? What sort of media are needed? What kind of journalists are needed?
This conference seeks to debate issues of media and elections within the broader context of democratization in local and global contexts. Issues of, ideology, power and future of media and democracy in Africa are part of the focus. The conference welcomes contributions that will debate these issues from different theoretical and methodological orientations.
Approximately 40 papers will be presented on topics including:
• Media and Elections in Africa
• NGOs and Activist Media in Africa
• Protest Music, Theatre, Drama
• Political Party Media in Africa
• New Media and Elections in Africa
• Foreign Media and African Democracy
• Rural and Urban Citizenship in Africa
• Elections, Elites and the Media in Africa
• Human Rights and the Media
• Media Ownership and Access in Africa
• Media Freedom in Africa
• The ‘African’ Public Sphere
• Media Controls and Constraints in Africa
• Media, Civic Education and Constitution Making in Africa
The deadline for submission of abstracts is Friday 31 January 2014. Abstracts should not be more than 300 words long. They must include the title of the conference, presenter’s name, affiliation, email and postal address, together with the title of the paper. Please ensure when saving your abstract that your name is part of the file name. Please email your abstract to Helen Cohen, Events Administrator at: (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Program and Registration
This two day conference will take place on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 March, 2014. The fee for registration (which applies to all participants, including presenters) will be £175, with a concessionary rate of £95 for students, to cover all conference documentation, refreshments lunches and administration costs. Registration will open in February 2014