Hello! My name is Toussaint Nothias. I am a scholar of global communication based at Stanford University and working on journalism, civil society and digital technologies in Africa.
I am currently the Director of Research at Stanford University’s Digital Civil Society Lab, a Research Scholar in the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS), and a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for African Studies. Prior to joining Stanford, I completed my PhD in the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds in 2016. In the Spring of 2022, I am a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
My research explores the multifaceted legacy of colonial power relations on contemporary media representations, journalistic practices, associational life, and digital networks. Disciplinarily, my scholarship sits at the intersection of global communication, journalism studies, critical/cultural studies, African studies, postcolonial/decolonial theories, and critical tech studies.
The first stream of my research agenda concentrates on media stereotyping and representations of Africa in global news. I have published extensively on this topic. My article “Postcolonial Reflexivity in the News Industry” (Journal of Communication) received the 2021 Outstanding Article Award from the ICA; and my paper “A ‘Hotbed’ of Digital Empowerment? Media Criticism in Kenya Between Playful Engagement and Co-Option” (International Journal of Communication) with David Cheruiyot received the IAMCR Stuart Hall Award. Emerging from this research, I created the “Africa Stereotype Scanner” project, a digital tool designed to identify and address damaging stereotypes and implicit biases in news writing about Africa.
My other research stream explores digital technology and advocacy across several African contexts. My most recent article – “Access Granted: Facebook’s Free Basics in Africa”– traces the history of one of the most notorious and controversial initiatives by tech corporations to increase connectivity across the Global South: Facebook’s Free Basics project. Drawing on an innovative virtual private network (VPN)-based method, my paper outlines the key drivers behind the quiet expansion of the program to 32 African countries.
My work has been published in various journals including the Journal of Communication; Media, Culture, Society; Journalism Studies; Communication, Culture, Critique; African Journalism Studies, Visual Communication; Public Books and the International Journal of Communication.
The Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University is a multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral, and global research hub dedicated to understanding and informing civil society in a digitally dependent world. In my role of research director, I conceptualize and coordinate the Lab’s research agenda, and lead the Lab’s core scholarly programs, including our postdoctoral program, courses, and scholar workshops and events. In this role, I collaborate with internal and external stakeholders, including faculty, practitioners, students, and other university and community-based networks to promote a vibrant intellectual community around the Lab’s research areas.
You can find out more about my work by checking out my CV and research page.