Sarah Chiumbu

Faculty / Academic Staff
Media, Democracy & Development
Intellectual Biography: 

The connecting thread that connects my research is the issue of power. I am interested in how power, ideas and interests intertwine to create oppression and social injustices in society. To this end, my research interests on ‘critical approaches to media, democracy and development’ is grounded in critical theory/ decolonial approaches that question the mainstream understandings of the role of media in development and democracy that are rooted in liberalism, a philosophy embedded in Western Enlightenment. I argue for an epistemic rupture and unthinking (or redefinition) of concepts such as democracy, human rights, citizenship beyond the narrow definitions imposed by European modernity. My approach to communication and development (ComDev) questions the dualist thinking framing academic debates that argues that the path of Europe's modern development must be followed unilaterally by every other culture. I thus call into question the narratives of modernity, progress, civilization, and modernization emerging from Euro-American epistemic sites that inform the ComDev project. My current research on “Unthinking the Media and Democracy Nexus” seeks to contribute to new theoretical ways of analysing media and democracy reforms in Southern Africa by drawing on a critical theoretical frame grounded in the Latin American decoloniality project, postcolonial and African political thought. My research project thus intends to confront and grapple with power issues in their different complexities as they relate to the media, democracy and development agenda.
As part of my research interests, I also want to design and offer a course on 'Media and African Philosophical Thought'. The field of media studies is underpinned by Western epistemic and ontological assumptions. I want to explore possibilities of adopting a broader canon of thought that draws on scholars such as Franz Fanon, Aime´ Cesaire, Amilcar Cabral, V. Mudimbe, Messay Kebede, Kwasi Wiredu, to name a few to read and problematise media in Africa.

Presentation Title: 
Unthinking the Media and Democracy Nexus
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