About

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I am the Associate 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.

I am a global communication scholar whose research focuses on journalism, civil society, and digital technologies across Africa. My research explores the legacy of colonial power relations on contemporary media representations, practices, institutions, and networks.

My most recent research project 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. Public and scholarly attention focused on its ban in India following nationwide protests about net neutrality. In Africa, however, Free Basics expanded without much public scrutiny to some 32 countries. Drawing on an innovative virtual private network (VPN)-based method, I outline two key interrelated phenomena behind this quiet expansion: (1) Facebook’s evolving communication strategy, including a greater engagement with civil society organizations and (2) the focus of digital rights activists in Africa on issues like Internet shutdowns, government surveillance, and the lack of data privacy frameworks

My earlier research examined stereotypes in global news coverage of Africa through the analysis of media content and interviews with journalists in Kenya and South Africa. 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 work has been published in various journals including the Journal of CommunicationMedia, Culture, SocietyJournalism Studies; Communication, Culture, Critique; African Journalism Studies, Visual Communication and the International Journal of Communication. My paper “Postcolonial Reflexivity in the News Industry” received the ICA-wide Outstanding Article Award and, my paper “A ‘Hotbed’ of Digital Empowerment? Media Criticism in Kenya Between Playful Engagement and Co-Option” with David Cheruiyot, received the IAMCR Stuart Hall Award.

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.

Prior to joining DCSL, I completed my PhD within the School of Media & Communication at the University of Leeds (UK),  was a research associate on the “Media, Conflict & Democratisation” project at the University of Oxford, worked as a lecturer in the Center for African Studies and completed a postdoc at the Digital Civil Society Lab, both at Stanford.