Digital Culture in the Global South/ Technological Colonialism

Scholars & Thought Leaders

Nanjala Nyabola

Nanjala Nyabola is a writer, political analyst, and activist based in Nairobi, Kenya. Nyabola writes extensively about African society and politics, technology, international law, and feminism for academic and non-academic publications. 

  • Digital democracy, analogue politics: how the Internet era is transforming Kenya (2018).

Kenyan Feminism in the Digital Age  (2018)

Kehbuma Langmia

Dr. Kehbuma Langmia is a Fulbright Scholar/ Professor and Chair in the Department of Strategic, Legal and Management Communication, School of Communications, Howard University.Dr. Langmia has extensive knowledge and expertise in Information Communication Technology (ICT), Intercultural, Cross Cultural and International Communication, Black Diaspora Communication Theory, Decolonial Media Studies, Social Media and Afrocentricity. 

  • Globalization and cyberculture: an Afrocentric perspective (2016)

Payal Arora

Payal Arora is an Indian digital anthropologist, full Professor and Chair in Technology, Values, and Global Media Cultures at Erasmus University Rotterdam, author and consultant. 

Soledad Ferreiro

Consultant for innovation, information and knowledge management projects. Former Director of Information Services and Libraries at the University of Chile. 

Dealing with Diversity and Digital Culture  (1997)

Anna Piela

Anna Piela has a PhD in Women’s Studies from the University of York. Her research focuses on interpretations of Islamic texts produced by Muslim women in online spaces, and she has published articles in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs and CyberOrient

  • Muslim Women Online: Faith and Identity in Virtual Space (2012)

Hernán Galperin

Hernan Galperin is an internationally recognized expert on Internet policy and digital inequality. His research uses surveys, field experiments and other quantitative methods to understand the determinants of broadband adoption and use, and how these are linked to the mechanisms of social stratification and gender discrimination.

Melissa Villa-Nicholas

Dr. Melissa Villa-Nicholas is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Rhode Island. Her research interests include the history of Latina/os with information technologies and information spaces, Latina/o socio-techno practices, new media studies, and race/class/gender technology studies. Melissa teaches LIS students on inclusion, race and racism, intersectionality, and use and users of information.

Latinx Digital Memory: Identity Making in Real Time  (2019)

Chinmayi Arun

Assistant Professor of Law at the National Law University, Delhi, where she was founder and director of the Centre for Communication Governance.

Book: The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI,  Edited by Markus D. Dubber, Frank Pasquale, and Sunit Das, Chapter: AI and the Global South: Designing for Other Worlds.


Mark Graham

Mark Graham is an economic geographer. His research focuses on digital labour, the gig economy, and digital inequalities. He is the author, most recently, of The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction.

Babatunde Okunoye

Babatunde Okunoye is a researcher on digital society, particularly in the context of the global south. His research focuses on Information Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D). Babatunde led research at Paradigm Initiative, a social enterprise working on digital rights and inclusion in Africa. Babatunde’s current research focuses on the use of aggregate search engine queries to inform public policy and international development, particularly in statistically poor contexts of developing countries.  

Abeba Birhane 

Abeba Birhane is an Ethiopian-born cognitive scientist who works at the intersection of complex adaptive systems, machine learning, algorithmic bias, and critical race studies. Birhane’s groundbreaking work with Vinay Prabhu uncovered that large-scale image datasets commonly used to develop AI systems, including ImageNet and 80 Million Tiny Images, carried racist and misogynistic labels and offensive images. She has been recognized by VentureBeat as a top innovator in computer vision.

Film & Video

Is Big Tech colonising the internet? | All Hail The Algorithm

Google, WeChat, Facebook, Huawei and many other American and Chinese tech companies are racing to partner with governments across Africa and Asia, building telecom and tech infrastructure, ‘connecting the unconnected’ and making mobile technology much more affordable. But in the process, are they building data empires and colonizing the internet?

Source: Al Jazeera English

Access To The Internet As A Human Right (2020)

In this talk, Kgomotso tells us that a failure to guarantee access to the internet for all would further widen the economic gap of inequality in a highly interconnected world. Creating access to the internet for all would lead to just and equitable societies and enabling free access will further enable the realisation of virtually all other rights in the Constitution. Kgomotso is a lecturer at the University of Johannesburg in the Faculty of Law.

Digital colonialism and my human rights | Nobukhosi Zulu

The rise of digital empires that have seemingly unlimited access to our data is a cause for concern as this data grants them vast powers. The more we relinquish our data, the more we place ourselves at risk to be controlled and dominated by digital empires. Human rights must remain at the forefront of conversations around digital growth and increased access. There is a need to pause and unpack the true hidden prices that we are paying when we voluntarily subscribe to the digital colonies. Experienced human rights advocate with a demonstrated history of working in legal practice and research. Special focus on access to and protection of information, human rights and constitutionalism.

Digital Witnesses: The Power of Looking 

Hannane Ferdjani, Nana Mgbechikwere Nwachukwu, and Dr. Allissa Richardson explore how young Black people around the world are utilizing tech tools to track and circumvent oppressive policies by repressive governments. The conversation includes how Black people of Nigeria, Uganda, and the United States are leveraging social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Clubhouse for artistic expressions on political and social issues in their countries. The panel also considers how young digital activists highlight the importance and place of the digital civic space to rights and freedoms offline. Finally, the discussion will address some of the limitations of digital tools in holding repressive governments and institutional bodies accountable. This event was moderated by Ellery Roberts Biddle.

Books & Articles

Academic Knowledge Production and the Global South (2020)

This book investigates and critically interprets the underrepresentation of the global South in global knowledge production. The author analyses the serious bias towards scholars and institutions from this region: he argues that this phenomenon causes serious disadvantages not only for authors and institutions, but global science as well by impeding the flow of fresh, innovative scholarship.  

Author: Márton Demeter

How Social Media Regulations Are Silencing Dissent in Africa (2020)

Despite looking progressive on the surface, social media regulations in Africa are not fighting hate speech and disinformation.

By: Tafi Mhaka

Source: Al Jazeera | Opinion

How Should Social Media Be Regulated? (2021)

“Regulation on social media should not be established only with US interests in mind.” Nanjala Nyabola discusses the role of social media in the 2020 elections in Uganda and calls for social media regulation that is sensitive to the needs of different regions.

Author: Nanjala Nyabola

Source: Al Jazeera | Opinion

Internet Connectivity Seen as Having Positive Impact on Life in Sub-Saharan Africa (2018)

Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced dramatic gains in internet use in recent years. With this rapid growth in connectivity have come a host of potential problems, including fake news political targeting and manipulation  and financial scams , among others. Yet according to a new Pew Research Center analysis, most sub-Saharan Africans feel positively about the role the internet plays in their country. 

Source: Pew Research Center

How new media platforms have become powerful across Africa (2018)

“New media platforms can be powerful forces for democracy and also a space for dangerous, sectarian and divisive ideas. A number of governments seem to be exploiting these fears in a bid to control these platforms. These attempts are likely to become a lot more commonplace across Africa. Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Gambia have already passed laws that target social media users specifically. Some of these laws criminalise free speech online, while others have made the use of social media too expensive for users. “

Source: The Conversation

The Algorithmic Colonization of Africa (2019)

Data and AI seem to provide quick solutions to complex social problems. And this is exactly where problems arise. Around the world, AI technologies are gradually being integrated into decision-making processes in such areas as insurance, mobile banking, health care and education services. But in the race to build the latest hiring app or state-of-the-art mobile banking system, startups and companies lose sight of the people behind each data point. “Data” is treated as something that is up for grabs, something that uncontestedly belongs to tech companies and governments, completely erasing individuals. The rights of the individual, the long-term social impacts of these systems, and their consequences, intended or unintended, on the most vulnerable are pushed aside — if they ever enter the discussion at all.

Source: Real Life Mag

By: Abeba Birhane