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“Control and navigation”, Conference 14 and 15 February 2013

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On 14 and 15 February 2013 a conference was held in Leiden with the aim of presenting the results of the ‘Mobile Africa Revisited’ programme. The Conference was held under the title:

Control and navigation: people searching to reach their goals in an ever more (in)flexible world

In the invitation we explained the reasons for the conference:

Conference Mobile Africa Revisited Leiden, 14 and 15 February 2013 INVITATION

The programme was centred around the presentations of the programme team members, who are near to completion of their PhD theses. We also were allowed to welcome very interesting guest speakers. To consult the programme, click here:

Programme Mobile Africa Revisited 14 and 15 February 2013

For the conference we chose the form of ‘Debates’. The abstracts and papers were circulated on beforehand, so that the discussants could develop their thoughts. For an overview of the abstracts, click here:

All abstracts conference Mobile Africa Revisited

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On this page we will now present most of the papers, powerpoint presentations and short films of the conference, so as to offer you an idea of the event:

 Papers, Presentations and film images:

14 February 2013

Session I

9.30              Opening by Director of the African Studies Centre, Ton Dietz: Ton Dietz Openingspeech

9.45              Introduction to the programme ‘Mobile Africa Revisited’ by Mirjam de Bruijn, Francis Nyamnjoh and Inge Brinkman

+ Book launch:

Mirjam de Bruijn, Inge Brinkman and Francis Nyamnjoh (eds), Side@Ways. Mobile margins and the dynamics of communication in Africa (Bamenda, Leiden: Langaa RPCIG, African Studies Centre, 2013).

11.15            Case studies from the Programme

Debate I: Media in Conflict

–          Djimet Seli, ‘L’héritage post-conflit et la téléphonie mobile dans la région du Guéra’ Djimet Seli Paper; Djimet Seli ppt

–          Boukary Sangaré, ‘Conflit et mobilité dans le Hayré: l’usage du téléphone portable en période de crises’ Boukary Sangaré ppt

–          Inge Brinkman, ‘Communication in times of war and peace, southeast Angola’ Inge Brinkman; Paper Inge Brinkman ppt

Thomas Molony (UEdinburgh): Theses and discussion

Niels ten Oever (Free Press Unlimited): Theses and discussion

Chair:  Guy Thomas

12.45            Lunch

With slide-show:

–          Mirjam de Bruijn and Lotte Pelckmans, ‘Advertisements in Africa’s communication landscape, about messages and anxieties’ Slide show of ICT advertisements

14.00            Debate II: ICT, the Companies and Local Economies

–        Naffet Keita, ‘Les politiques publiques de télécommunications modernes au Mali : la téléphonie mobile en question’ Naffet Keita PaperNaffet Keita ppt

–          Walter Nkwi, ‘Letter writers and letter technology in Kom, Cameroon, before 1960’ Walter Nkwi Paper; Walter Nkwi ppt

–          Khalil Alio, ‘The Hadjaraye women between war and the struggle for survival’ Khalil Alio Paper

Olivier Nyirubugara (IICD): Theses and discussion Olivier Nyirubugara Theses

Annie Chéneau-Loquay (University of Bordeaux): Theses and discussion Annie Chenau-Loquay Theses

Chair: Robert Ross

Session II, chaired by Mirjam de Bruijn

16.00               Film ‘Ties through thin air’ by Sjoerd Sijsma & Mirjam de Bruijn.

Mobile telephony has changed the lifestyle of many African migrants, for example, now one can stay in daily contact with people ‘back home’. In this film we follow the social ties of two transnational family networks, whose ‘home’ is Cameroon. The arrival of mobile telephony at the end of the 20th century has transformed the social dynamics in these families in many respects

17.30                        Keynote address by Heather Horst, ‘Mobile crossroads: Reflections on the mediation of mobility’ Heather Horst Keynote; Heather Horst Keynote address ppt

Discussant: Francis Nyamnjoh

15 February 2013

Session III

9.00              Case studies from the Programme

Debate III: Mobility, Politics and the Role of the State

–          Tangie Fonchingong, ‘Changing state politics: changing social relations, Nigerians in West-Cameroon’ Tangie Fonchingong PaperTangie Fonchingong ppt

–          Fatima Diallo, ‘L’état-spontex : négocier l’autorité dans les marges territoriales. Le cas de Basse-Casamance (Sénégal)’ Fatima Diallo ppt

–          Hisham Bilal, ‘Mobile phone politics: the companies and relations with the state and civil society in Sudan’ Hisham Bilal ppt

Jasper Grosskurth: Theses and discussion Jasper Grosskurth Theses

Chair: Benjamin Soares

11.00            Case studies from the Programme

Debate IV: Transnationalism and the (non-)Border

–          Imke Gooskens, ‘Young Angolans on Facebook: creating some space’ Imke Gooskens PaperImke Gooskens ppt

–          Henrietta Nyamnjoh, ‘From transcending transnational transaction and material accumulation to negotiating emotional transnationalism’ Henrietta Nyamnjoh PaperHenrietta Nyamnjoh ppt

Koen Stroeken (UGent): Theses and discussion Koen Stroeken Theses

Chair: Inge Brinkman

12.00            Lunch

Session IV, chaired by Rijk van Dijk

13.00            Hans-Peter Hahn, ‘The phone as an alien object. Public rumors about misuses of mobiles’ Hans-Peter Hahn PaperHans Peter Hahn ppt

14.00            Charlotte Connelly, ‘The many politics of displaying Cameroon’s mobile culture’ Charlotte Connelly PaperCharlotte Connelly ppt

15.30            Final discussion led by Herman Wasserman and Oka Obono: Theses and discussion. Chair: Mirjam de Bruijn Herman Wasserman Final Remarks for discussion

16.30            Closure.

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In the Dutch press the event was announced as follows:

Conferentie van het onderzoeksprogramma ‘Mobile Africa Revisited’

Plaats en Datum: Poortgebouw, Leiden, 14 en 15 februari 2013,

THEMA:

Control and navigation: people searching to reach their goals in an ever more (in)flexible world

BUY AIRTIME HERE!

CHEAP INTERNATIONAL CALLS!

CELL PHONE SPECIALS: STAY CONNECTED!

De mobiele telefoon heeft nog maar recent z’n intrede gedaan in Afrika: 25 jaar geleden bestonden dit soort advertenties niet. Toen zagen de bedrijven Afrika als een risico-markt en werd voorzichtig een begin gemaakt met investeringen. Maar tegen alle verwachtingen in werd de mobiele telefoon in Afrika een enorm succesverhaal. En de veranderingen gaan razendsnel: met de komst van de smartphone neemt ook het internet een enorme vlucht. Hierdoor zijn de ontwikkelingen van gisteren vandaag al weer geschiedenis… En de nieuwe communicatietechnologieën worden door iedereen gebruikt. Weliswaar op verschillende manieren en in verschillende mate, maar jong en oud, rijk en arm, mannen en vrouwen, plattelands- en stadsbevolking: bijna iedereen in Afrika doet mee in dit verhaal.

Om die dynamische ontwikkelingen in kaart te brengen lanceerden we in 2008 een onderzoeksprogramma, gefinancierd door WOTRO (Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek in de Tropen). De nadruk lag daarbij op de verhoudingen tussen mobiliteit, sociale relaties en de nieuwe ICTs in zogenaamde marginale gebieden in Afrika. Wat was de rol van nieuwe media in arme gebieden waar tot voor kort zelfs amper wegen bestonden? We kwamen al snel uit op de politieke dimensie van de nieuwe media. Sociale hiërarchieën, economische verhoudingen en politiek hangen immers samen. In plaats van simpelweg te veronderstellen dat de nieuwe media ‘ontwikkeling’ brengen, moeten we concluderen dat het veel ingewikkelder is. Aan de ene kant bieden de nieuwe media allerlei mogelijkheden, ook aan kansarme mensen in Afrika. Maar tegelijk kunnen die kansen juist ook onderdrukt worden met behulp van de nieuwe media, omdat er meer controle mogelijk is. Zo wordt de wereld van veel mensen tegelijk meer ‘open’ en ook meer ‘gesloten’.

In plaats van de spreekwoordelijke ‘ivoren toren’ werd tijdens het onderzoeksprogramma samengewerkt met mensen uit de universiteit, het bedrijfsleven, de ontwikkelingswereld, beleidsmakers en vooral natuurlijk met partners in Afrika. Die brede waaier komt ook aan bod in deze conferentie. Het doel van de conferentie is om de resultaten van het onderzoeksprogramma naar voren te brengen.

We heten u van harte welkom.

Mirjam de Bruijn, Afrika-Studiecentrum, Leiden, Bruijnm@ascleiden.nl

Francis Nyamnjoh, Universiteit van Kaapstad, Zuid-Afrika, Nyamnjoh@gmail.com

Inge Brinkman, Afrika-Studiecentrum, Leiden, Ibrinkman@ascleiden.nl

Callbox: A phone call for only 100 Francs    © ASC 2008
Callbox: A phone call for only 100 Francs © ASC 2008
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Exchanging ideas about new ICT’s

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NEWS 

New programme: Connecting in times of Duress

This research programme seeks to understand the dynamics in the relationship between social media, mobile telephony and the social fabric under duress inAfrica’s mobile margins. It combines studies on mobility/migration, conflict and communication in an attempt to uncover these new dynamics, which have been so evident in North Africa and theMiddle Eastin 2011. Societies under duress are characterized by long periods of war or repression that lead to mobilities (forced or economic) and marginality. People who live in such circumstances have to manoeuvre between oppressive structures and possibilities to communicate, which are often informed by violence, fear and poverty. The introduction of new ICT is enhancing information flows and communication between people and this is expected to lead to social change and to influence the social fabric in its (re)forming of communities and the construction of identity and feelings of belonging, which will increasingly differentiate social groups. The study is situated in northern Middle Africa (Chad,Central African Republic,Cameroonand easternNigeria). The proposed methodology is interdisciplinary (anthropology, history, communication studies, conflict studies and social geography), historical-ethnographic and comparative, involving regional sub-projects among diverse mobile populations in urban centres, refugee camps and remote rural areas. Film and photography will also form part of the methodology, acting as a form of communication between researchers, local communities and stakeholders and will result in a documentary. The study contributes to the development of a theory of connections. The findings will enhance our understanding of conflict dynamics and further the debate on the role of social media and ICT in conflict and post-conflict societies. Workshops and conferences in Africa andEuropewill guarantee regular exchanges between policy makers and academia.

For the full programme, click here.

Logo Mobile Africa Revisited
 Mobile Africa Revisited

 A comparative study of the relationship between new communication technologies and social spaces (Chad, Mali, Cameroon, Angola, Sudan and Senegal).

  

Callbox: A phone call for only 100 Francs    © ASC 2008
Call for only 100 Francs in Cameroon © ASC 2008

 

This research programme investigates the relationship between new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), social space, mobility and marginality in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although transport facilities and communication infrastructure are frequently deficient in the so-called remote and marginal regions of Africa, these regions usually have long histories of trans-local mobility and migration. As a result of this combination of remoteness and mobility, the impact and the social use of new ICTs may be most dramatic among marginal social categories and in marginalized areas. Relations between people living in these areas and those who have moved away can be studied as strings of people forming mobile margins, with changing aspirations and possibilities.

 

Phone shop in Sudan    © ASC 2008

 

This project aims to study the extent to which the recent introduction of new ICTs in these areas is shaping and is shaped by the mobile margins, both socially and economically. Alternative alleys of contact are perhaps being opened up but it is also possible that earlier routes and forms of interaction are being closed off or redefined. New ICTs may be leading to unforeseen opportunities but could also generate new patterns of exclusion and poverty and lead to new social hierarchies. New ICTs are perhaps being used and articulated in creative, locally embedded ways, but it could equally be possible that people in mobile marginal networks feel that the new ICTs and the international companies introducing them are being aggressively imposed on them, leading to new social, moral and economic problems. The research programme therefore aims to interrogate the unequivocally positive view regarding the introduction of ICTs that is often found in policy circles.

 

Picture1
Calling home in Cameroon © ASC 2008

 

In our research programme on social relations, mobility and new communication technologies in Africa we seek to address the issue of development and communication technologies through the interpretation of African end-users. Instead of a macro-perspective we propose to deal with large structures and big issues from a bottom-up perspective: the daily lives of people and their evaluations of new technologies are central to our endeavour. Combining historical and anthropological methods we hope to address how people in Africa are appropriating new ICTs and how they did so in the past. Such an approach may redirect the debates mentioned above towards more emphasis on agency in historically specific contexts.

Exchange with organisations in the telecommunication business sector and in development organisations is essential to this programme.

 

Changing Sudanese landscape  © ASC 2008
Changing Sudanese landscape © ASC 2008