Researching and Teaching African Media Studies from the “Center”: Challenges and Opportunities for Epistemic Resistance

  • Toussaint Nothias


Following global patterns of inequalities in academic knowledge production, a substantial part of research in African media studies has been conducted by researchers from outside the continent and/or based in the West. This situation raises significant political and moral questions about conducting research in an unequal world: who benefits from this research? Do these researchers have particular kinds of moral and political responsibilities? At what point does knowledge production becomes knowledge extraction, if not exploitation? These questions are particularly relevant for the field of African media studies, which has an epistemological affiliation with postcolonial theory and, therefore, with resistance to systems of knowledge inherited from the colonial era.This chapter identifies challenges and opportunities for the development of research and teaching in African Media Studies from the vantage point of the academic “centre” of global knowledge production. I start by reviewing the matrix of power in which Western-based researchers are entangled, with a particular focus on media and communication studies. In the second part, I draw on the implications of this positionality to identify key challenges in carrying research. The final part turns to the practice of teaching African media studies in the West in relation to those challenges. I put forward several ideas for educators to develop curricula that acknowledge and disrupt those dynamics––ultimately, engaging with what it means to contribute to epistemic resistance from a distance.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toussaint Nothias
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for African Studies, Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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