The key goal of DDMAC is to gather empirical evidence defining and demonstrating the use, spread, content, and agenda-setting role of social media in regions of conflicts in sub- Saharan Africa.
Conflicts and insurgencies threaten to reverse development progress made in recent decades, not least in regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Digital communication is assumed to have a severe impact both on how conflicts develop and how they are being mediated, but there is a need for more empirical evidence on the role of digital media in regions of conflict.
Ethiopia and Mali have been selected as focal points of research as they represent two important regions of ongoing conflicts, namely the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. Experiences from Ethiopia and Mali could help illuminate our perceptions of digital media's role in ongoing conflicts. Concomitantly two very different countries, they are both historically tied to weak social contracts, have large diasporas, complex realities of inequalities and conflicts between polarized groups on ethnic lines. Through an ambitious interdisciplinary approach combining media and conflict studies, anthropology and computational social science, and a wide range of methodologies ranging from focus groups interviews, nethnographies, 'scraping' of a large amount of social media data, network analysis, media content tracking, and discourse analysis, the project will gain important new knowledge of citizens' social media use, how disinformation and hate speech spread through digital networks, the role of diasporas in conflicts, and the relationship between digital media and traditional media (radio) in regions with relatively low internet connectivity.
More about the project
The project aims at establishing principles and processes to prevent, manage and resolve conflict in a sustainable manner and present them in a context-specific theory on digital media’s role in conflicts in African regions. The lack of communication between research in English and French, two of the largest lingua francas on the African continent, is surprising, and the project aims to bridge the gap between the two research traditions, while also including local languages.
The primary objectives of the DDMAC project are:
- Gather empirical evidence defining and demonstrating the use, spread, content and agenda setting role of social media in regions of conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Identify the mechanisms through which disinformation and hate speech spread in social media in regions of conflict, both within and beyond local and regional constituencies.
- Drawing on this data, develop a new theoretical model for ‘African digital democracies’ including principles and practices, which may prevent, manage and resolve intractable conflicts