Contact

Dr Wendy Willems

Room TW3.7.01G

Department of Media and Communications

London School of Economics and Political Science

Houghton Street

London

WC2A 2AE

020 7852 3738

 

Twitter (@MediaLSE): twitter.com/#!/medialse

Email: w.willems@lse.ac.uk

 

Dr Wendy Willems

Assistant Professor

I joined the LSE Department of Media and Communications as Assistant Professor in January 2013. 

Prior to that, I was Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa (2010-2012). I remain affiliated to the University of the Witwatersrand as an Honorary Research Fellow.

Previously, I was also a Visiting Lecturer in the School of Media, Arts and Design at the University of Westminster in London (2006, 2008) and the Department of Media and Society Studies at Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe (2012). Between 2004 and 2009, I worked as Senior Research Officer for the London-based development NGO War on Want where I coordinated the Informal Economy Programme.

I hold a BSc/MSc in Economics ('International Economic Studies') and a BA/MA in Cultural Studies ('Cultuur- en Wetenschapsstudies') from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, and a PhD in Media and Film Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

In 2006, I founded the Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS) together with Dr Winston Mano from the University of Westminster. Our main motivation was to create a peer-reviewed international journal that would adopt a broad definition of media and would contribute to the on-going re-positioning of media and cultural studies outside the Anglo-American axis. 

The key question that occupies my research is the role that different forms of media and popular culture play in consolidating power and enabling resistance and social change. In broad terms, my research revolves around three main strands.

Critical approaches to media, communication and development

My approach to media, communication and development is grounded in critical theory/cultural studies and seeks to deconstruct mainstream approaches to communication and development ('ComDev'), hereby engaging with key theoretical perspectives on power and resistance and connecting with broader debates in media and cultural studies on internationalising, dewesternising and decolonising the field.

Interrogating the role of media in elections and citizen participation in Zambia and Zimbabwe, my research contends that the bulk of academic research on media and communication in Africa has studied media through the normative lens of (Western) liberal-democratic media-state relations. I argue that this approach has insufficiently looked at the actual, historical and contextual role of media in African societies but instead focused on what roles media ought to play on the continent. Furthermore, the heavy focus on media-state relations has ignored the way in which ordinary people relate to media.

New media and social change

My most recent research investigates the role of new media (mobile phones and social media) in processes of social change. Critiquing mainstream development approaches, I examine the way in which mobile media are implicated in reconfigurations of space, mobility and social relations in an age of neoliberalism. Focusing on Zambia as a case study, I consider mobile phones as both a product of the neoliberal turn as well as an 'enabler' of this turn.

While dominant approaches to ICTs have mostly celebrated their empowering potential in Africa, I consider the potential of mobile phones in bringing about emancipation while simultaneously treating these technologies as always embedded within complex relations of economic, social and political power which may have potentially limiting effects. I am interested in understanding how mobile phones impact on conceptions of space, mobility and social relationships as well as how relations between online and offline spaces are forged in particular localities and processes of social change.

Popular culture, performance and politics in Africa

My last research focus (which is partly based on my PhD thesis) is located at the intersection of political communication, cultural studies and African Studies. I am interested in the crucial role that popular culture plays in the consolidation of power and the performance of resistance, both in the African context and elsewhere. Drawing on case studies of the role of music, humour and performance in Zimbabwe, I interrogate politics as a form of popular culture and popular culture as a site of politics. I am interested in the performative aspects of political communication and the role of popular culture in mediating the relationship between state and citizens.

I am on sabbatical in the Michaelmas term. In the Lent term, I convene MC428 Media Culture and Neoliberalism in the Global South.

In 2011, I was awarded the Faculty of Humanities Individual Teaching and Learning Award at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and in 2012, I was awarded the Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning Award at the same institution.

I welcome supervision in areas such as media culture and neoliberalism; media and religion; media anthropology; humour and resistance; music, performance and politics; mobile phones/social media and social change; race and media; media and nationalism.

Books

Civic agency in Africa: arts of resistance in the 21st century
Obadare, Ebenezer and Willems, Wendy, eds. (2014) Civic agency in Africa: arts of resistance in the 21st century. James Currey, Oxford, UK. ISBN 9781847010865

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

Risky dialogues: the performative state and the nature of power in a postcolony
Willems, Wendy (2015) Risky dialogues: the performative state and the nature of power in a postcolony. Journal of African Cultural Studies, 27 (3). pp. 356-369. ISSN 1369-6815

Provincializing hegemonic histories of media and communication studies: towards a genealogy of epistemic resistance in Africa
Willems, Wendy (2014) Provincializing hegemonic histories of media and communication studies: towards a genealogy of epistemic resistance in Africa. Communication Theory, 24 (4). pp. 415-434. ISSN 1468-2885

Beyond normative dewesternization: examining media culture from the vantage point of the Global South
Willems, Wendy (2014) Beyond normative dewesternization: examining media culture from the vantage point of the Global South. The Global South , 8 (1). pp. 7-23. ISSN 1932-8648

Participation – in what? Radio, convergence and the corporate logic of audience input through new media in Zambia
Willems, Wendy (2013) Participation – in what? Radio, convergence and the corporate logic of audience input through new media in Zambia. Telematics and Informatics, 30 (3). pp. 223-231. ISSN 0736-5853

'Zimbabwe will never be a colony again': changing celebratory styles and meanings of independence
Willems, Wendy (2013) 'Zimbabwe will never be a colony again': changing celebratory styles and meanings of independence. Anthropology Southern Africa, 36 (1-2). pp. 22-33. ISSN 2332-3256

Editorial
Willems, Wendy (2012) Editorial. Journal of African Media Studies, 4 (3). pp. 273-275. ISSN 2040-199X

Interrogating public sphere and popular culture as theoretical concepts on their value in African studies
Willems, Wendy (2012) Interrogating public sphere and popular culture as theoretical concepts on their value in African studies. Africa Development, 37 (1). pp. 11-26. ISSN 0850-3907

The ballot vote as embedded ritual: a radical critique of liberal-democratic approaches to media and elections in Africa
Willems, Wendy (2012) The ballot vote as embedded ritual: a radical critique of liberal-democratic approaches to media and elections in Africa. African Studies, 71 (1). pp. 91-107. ISSN 0002-0184

Comic strips and “the crisis”: postcolonial laughter and coping with everyday life in Zimbabwe
Willems, Wendy (2011) Comic strips and “the crisis”: postcolonial laughter and coping with everyday life in Zimbabwe. Popular Communication, 9 (2). pp. 126-145. ISSN 1540-5710

Reinvoking the past in the present: changing identities and appropriations of Joshua Nkomo in post-colonial Zimbabwe
Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J. and Willems, Wendy (2010) Reinvoking the past in the present: changing identities and appropriations of Joshua Nkomo in post-colonial Zimbabwe. African Identities, 8 (3). pp. 191-208. ISSN 1472-5843

Beyond dramatic revolutions and grand rebellions: everyday forms of resistance during the 'Zimbabwe crisis'
Willems, Wendy (2010) Beyond dramatic revolutions and grand rebellions: everyday forms of resistance during the 'Zimbabwe crisis'. Comminicare, 29 . pp. 1-17. ISSN 0259-0069

Editorial
Willems, Wendy (2010) Editorial. Journal of African Media Studies, 2 (2). pp. 135-137. ISSN 2040-199X

Making sense of cultural nationalism and the politics of commemoration under the Third Chimurenga in Zimbabwe
Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J. and Willems, Wendy (2009) Making sense of cultural nationalism and the politics of commemoration under the Third Chimurenga in Zimbabwe. Journal of Southern African Studies, 35 (4). pp. 945-965. ISSN 0305-7070

Emerging communities, emerging media: the case of a Zimbabwean nurse in the British Big Brother show
Mano, Winston and Willems, Wendy (2008) Emerging communities, emerging media: the case of a Zimbabwean nurse in the British Big Brother show. Critical Arts , 22 (1). pp. 101-128. ISSN 0256-0046

Remnants of Empire? British media reporting on Zimbabwe
Willems, Wendy (2005) Remnants of Empire? British media reporting on Zimbabwe. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture . pp. 91-108. ISSN 1744-6708

Peasant demonstrators, violent invaders: representations of land in the Zimbabwean press
Willems, Wendy (2004) Peasant demonstrators, violent invaders: representations of land in the Zimbabwean press. World Development, 32 (10). pp. 1767-1783. ISSN 0305-750X

Selection and silence: contesting meanings of land in Zimbabwean media
Willems, Wendy (2004) Selection and silence: contesting meanings of land in Zimbabwean media. Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies, 25 (1). pp. 4-24. ISSN 0256-0054

Book Chapters 

Race and the reproduction of colonial mythologies on land: a postcolonial reading of British media discourse on Zimbabwe
Willems, Wendy (2015) Race and the reproduction of colonial mythologies on land: a postcolonial reading of British media discourse on Zimbabwe. In: Mano, Winston, (ed.) Racism, Ethnicity and Media in Africa: Mediating Conflict in the Twenty-First Century. International library of African studies. I. B.Tauris, London, UK. ISBN 9781780767055

Alternative mediation, power and civic agency in Africa
Willems, Wendy (2015) Alternative mediation, power and civic agency in Africa. In: Atton, Chris, (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Alternative and Community Media. Routledge, London, UK. ISBN 9780415644044 (In Press)

Producing loyal citizens and entertaining volatile subjects: imagining audience agency in colonial Rhodesia and post-colonial Zimbabwe
Willems, Wendy (2014) Producing loyal citizens and entertaining volatile subjects: imagining audience agency in colonial Rhodesia and post-colonial Zimbabwe. In: Butsch, Richard and Livingstone, Sonia, (eds.) Meanings of Audiences: Comparative Discourses. Routledge, Abingdon, UK, pp. 80-96. ISBN 9780415837293

Introduction: African resistance in an age of fractured sovereignty
Willems, Wendy and Obadare, Ebenezer (2014) Introduction: African resistance in an age of fractured sovereignty. In: Obadare, Ebenezer and Willems, Wendy, (eds.) Civic agency in Africa: arts of resistance in the 21st century. James Currey, Oxford, UK, pp. 1-23. ISBN 9781847010865

Theorising media as/and civil society in Africa
Willems, Wendy (2013) Theorising media as/and civil society in Africa. In: Obadare, Ebenezer, (ed.) The Handbook of Civil Society in Africa. Nonprofit and civil society studies(20). Springer, New York, USA, pp. 43-59. ISBN 9781461482611

Large classes, participation and the potential of educational blogging: personal reflections on the exPress imPress project
Willems, Wendy (2013) Large classes, participation and the potential of educational blogging: personal reflections on the exPress imPress project. In: Hornsby, David J., Osman, Ruksana and De Matos Ala, Jaqueline, (eds.) Large-Class Pedagogy: Interdisciplinary Perspectives for Quality Tertiary Education. Stellenbosch University Press, Stellenbosch, South Africa, pp. 107-128.

Zimbabwe’s cultural revolution and the ‘melodic press release’: mediated national imaginaries in an age of neoliberalism
Willems, Wendy (2013) Zimbabwe’s cultural revolution and the ‘melodic press release’: mediated national imaginaries in an age of neoliberalism. In: Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J. and Ndhlovu, Fenix, (eds.) Nationalism and National Projects in Southern Africa: New Critical Reflections. Africa Institute of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, pp. 158-175. ISBN 9780798303958

Encyclopedia of social movement media
Willems, Wendy (2011) Encyclopedia of social movement media. In: Downing, John D. H., (ed.) Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media. Sage, London, UK, pp. 410-412. ISBN 9780761926887

Political jokes in Zimbabwe
Willems, Wendy (2011) Political jokes in Zimbabwe. In: Downing, John D. H., (ed.) Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media. Sage, Los Angeles, US, pp. 410-412. ISBN 9780761926887

'Powerful centre' versus 'powerless periphery'?: postcolonial encounters, global media and nationalism in the 'Zimbabwe crisis'
Willems, Wendy (2011) 'Powerful centre' versus 'powerless periphery'?: postcolonial encounters, global media and nationalism in the 'Zimbabwe crisis'. In: Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. and Muzondidya, J., (eds.) Redemptive or Grotesque Nationalism? Rethinking Contemporary Politics in Zimbabwe. Nationalisms across the globe(3). Peter Lang, Oxford, UK, pp. 315-348. ISBN 9783039119769

Social movement media, post-apartheid (South Africa)
Willems, Wendy (2011) Social movement media, post-apartheid (South Africa). In: Downing, John D. H., (ed.) Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media. Sage, London, UK, pp. 492-495. ISBN 9780761926887

At the crossroads of the formal and popular: convergence culture and new publics in Zimbabwe
Willems, Wendy (2010) At the crossroads of the formal and popular: convergence culture and new publics in Zimbabwe. In: Wasserman, Herman, (ed.) Popular Media, Democracy and Development in Africa. Internationalizing media studies. Routledge, Abingdon, UK, pp. 46-62. ISBN 9780415577939

Debating ‘Zimbabweanness’ in diasporic internet forums: technologies of freedom?
Mano, Winston and Willems, Wendy (2010) Debating ‘Zimbabweanness’ in diasporic internet forums: technologies of freedom? In: McGregor, J. and Primorac, R., (eds.) Zimbabwe's New Diaspora: Displacement and the Cultural Politics of Survival. Forced migration(31). Berghahn, Oxford, UK, pp. 183-201. ISBN 9781845456580

Mocking the state: comic strips in the Zimbabwean press
Willems, Wendy (2008) Mocking the state: comic strips in the Zimbabwean press. In: Abbink, J. and Van Dokkum, A., (eds.) Dilemmas of Development : Conflicts of Interest and Their Resolutions in Modernizing Africa. African studies collection,12. African Studies Centre, Leiden, Netherlands, pp. 151-162.

 

 

 

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E. Obadare and W. Willems (eds.), Civic agency in Africa: arts of resistance in the 21st century. Oxford: James Currey. ISBN 9781847010865

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 Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS)