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Title: The culturalisation of development in Nairobi : a practice-based approach toward understanding Kenya's urban audiovisual media environment
Author: McNamara, Joshua
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 0169
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis is a theoretically and methodologically grounded study of the practices of media production within the development field in Nairobi, Kenya. As various media technologies have taken root in everyday life throughout the city, aid and development agencies have found powerful new platforms for achieving their mandates to bring about social and economic change. Concurrently, struggling media professionals have found in the economies of development a rich new source of funding and creative opportunity. By turning to consider the complex and imbricating practices through which media productions harness - and are in turn themselves harnessed by - the development sector, this thesis contributes vital new research into the media and development nexus in contemporary urban Nairobi. By turning toward a study of what I call the 'culturalisation' of development, I signal an explicit inversion of the instrumentalist assumptions at work in much scholarship on media and development. In exploring the culturalisation of development in Nairobi, we shift our attention from questions about how useful media technology is for development, toward questions of what happens when a development project seeks to use culture to achieve its development goals. Based around a practice-based ethnographic analysis of two media productions that took place in Nairobi between 2012 and 2013, this thesis presents a novel approach to understanding a complex urban media environment. This research reveals that not only can media products that emerge from moments of culturalisation be seen to be determined as much from 'below' as they are from 'above', but furthermore the very notions of culture and development are themselves contested and disrupted in the process of their production. What this thesis offers is a detailed ethnographic analysis of media production in the context of development. It provides insightful research for scholars interested in critical media studies and development theory, as well as scholars interested in media production ethnography in the context of African film studies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral