Profiling IAMCR Prize Winners
IAMCR Newsletter - October 2015
IAMCR hosts a number of awards and grants. At the Montreal conference we awarded IAMCR Prize in Memory of Stuart Hall, the New Directions for Climate Communication Research Fellowship, and the UCF/IAMCR Urban Communication Research Grant. This regular feature in the newsletter highlights past winners and their contributions beginning with Faith Kibere, winner of the inaugural IAMCR Prize in Memory of Stuart Hall, 2015.
Faith Njeri Kibere, the 2015 Stuart Hall Award Winner
Faith Njeri Kibere is a fourth year Media and Communication PhD candidate at the University of Leicester, UK. She holds a Master of Arts in International Design and Communication Management from the University of Warwick, UK (2011) and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Cum Laude) from Daystar University, Kenya (2010). Her research interests are the appropriation of new media technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa and how media and communication intersect with development.
Summary of the winning paper: The Politics of Representation in Kibera Slum, Kenya
I conducted a yearlong ethnographic research in Kibera to study the relationship between the youth and new media technologies (January to December 2013). Every time I sat with the youth to enjoy fried flat bread (Kenyan chapati) in the cafés or when we basked by the roadside, they were anxious to discuss the perceived representations about them and their home. The more I immersed myself in their context, I was confronted with a very persistent theme related to their social structure: The theme of representation. Hall argues that, “stereotyping is a set of representational practices that are part of the maintenance of social and symbolic order that sets up a symbolic frontier between the normal and the deviant…what belongs and what does not and what is the other” (Hall, 2013: 257, 258). As an extension of Hall's argument, I assert that the stereotyping of Kibera slum as a devastating land of poverty is a representational practice that has paradoxical effects on the youthful residents of Kibera. This is because the stereotype of Kibera attracts international attention to the needs of the residents but it also leads to their social exclusion in the greater Kenyan society. In this critical realist ethnographic article, I compare published literature on Kibera slum with a structural analysis of the area derived from empirical data. I conclude by proposing that the representational act of negative stereotyping can be eliminated by more scholarship that is critical and emancipatory.
Summary of Faith's broader thesis: The Capability of Mobility in Kibera Slum, Kenya
The Mobiles for Development (M4D) field is framed by ideas of the “mobile phone as an enabler of choice and it is framed within the wider (ICT4D) perspective where technologies can be designed and woven into social systems in order to bring about positive social change” (Tacchi et al., 2012: 530). In the past few years, new media technologies and ICTs have been promoted as the “silver bullet that will solve all the development problems in the Global South” (Heeks, 2010c: 629). However, despite the optimistic claims of the usage of ICTs and the great investments in ICT infrastructure, the voices of the users and “supposed beneficiaries of the technologies” are often absent from the academic and practitioner discussion (Han, 2012:2059). Therefore, it is the goal of my thesis to interrogate the optimism around the use of ICTs in the Global South by focusing on the relationship between ICT and the youth of Kibera slum, Kenya. This people centered ethnographic research amplifies the much-needed voices of technology users by exploring how youth appropriate new media and ICT for development purposes.
Hall, S., 2013. "The spectacle of the other". In Hall, S., Evans,J. and Nixon,S. eds. Representation: Cultural representations and signifying practices. 2nd ed. Sage Publications, pp.223-283
Heeks, R. 2010c. "Do information and communication technologies (ICTs) contribute to development?" In Journal of International Development, 22(5), pp.625-640
Han, C., 2012. "South African perspectives on mobile phones: Challenging the optimistic narrative of mobiles for development". In International Journal of Communication. 6, pp.2057- 2081
Tacchi,J., Kitner, K. R. & Crawford, K., 2012. "Meaningful mobility: Gender, development and mobile phones". In Feminist Media Studies, 12(4)