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Title: Women, the media and modernity in Zanzibar : 'ninjas, mamas and good girls'
Author: Mutch, Thembi
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 1486
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis is an interdisciplinary work that explores research questions on women's discourses about media and politics in Zanzibar. How do Zanzibar women become modern in order to participate in public spheres? What lacunae operate within the conventional tropes of modernity that limit a full exploration of their conversations? This is the first inter-disciplinary ethnographic work within the audience/reception studies genre of media studies to focus specifically on Islamic women and their iterations of voice, agency and interiorisation of control in East Africa. Located within post-colonial debates, the work prioritises gender in East Africa as a key marker for localised behaviours and responses to globalised modernity, accessing women and girls' voices and opinions to explore this. The work critically interrogates existing work on public spheres and asks us if we (in the Global North) are looking in the wrong places and asking the wrong questions. We need to reimagine the Southern public sphere from the perspective of women in Zanzibar; we need to examine the meanings of agency, modernity and civil engagement in an African context, factoring in the particularities of shame, secrecy, concealment, precariousity, gossip, corruption and non-state engagement. Using polyvocal definitions of media and empirical research, this thesis redefines the nature of public and political agency for Islamic Women in Zanzibar and explores issues of agency and the 'self-help' qualities of the media. It also examines the complexities of the weak state and partitioned-off local elites who have access to global networks and influences that often do not include the Global North.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral