Bilchiinsi Philosophy: Decolonizing Methodologies in Media Studies

Abstract: Despite recent calls for decolonization in academia as a whole and the fields of communication studies and media studies in particular—with a focus on narratives such as #CommunicationSoWhite and #RhetoricSoWhite—there remains a lacuna of research on the topic within the African academy. Drawing on what I call an African feminist autoethnography framework grounded in a decolonial philosophy of Bilchiinsi, I present critical reflections on my experiences as an African scholar conducting research on media studies on the continent. I argue that although canonical theories can be useful in theorizing African media systems, decolonizing research must first look to Indigenous African epistemologies and knowledge systems to support knowledge production in communication studies and media studies. I draw on my experiences as a scholar cocreating knowledge with marginalized communities in Northern Ghana to discuss the legitimacy of African knowledge systems and parse out methodological strategies informed by these knowledge systems. I demonstrate the ways my knowledge gathering in this region is guided by the Dagbaŋ philosophy of Bilchiinsi, which ontologically emphasizes respecting the human dignity of interlocutors. I highlight the need for a paradigm shift in knowledge-building in media studies and communication studies, especially when African communities are the focus.

Decolonizing the Curriculum in Media Studies

Abstract: Although there have been extensive discussions on decolonizing the field of media and communication(s), not much attention has been paid to the way that curricula reproduce colonialism, imperialism and racism in the classroom. In this essay, I draw on my experiences as an African graduate student in an American classroom to highlight the ways that systemic racism is replicated, reproduced and frames pedagogy. I argue that although many communication(s) scholars purport to theorize from a radical perspective, these politics are not represented in their pedagogy which means that students from the most marginalized communities are often erased in discussions on theory, research methods and even pedagogy. Not only are the epistemological experiences and realities of marginalized students erased, but the canon is further legitimized leading to the training of scholars and teachers who go on to (in)advertently uphold racism, white supremacy, colonialism and imperialism in their research, teaching and service.

Decolonizing African Media Studies

This paper won First Place in the Faculty Paper Awards also known as the Robert L. Stevenson Open Paper Competition. It also won Best Paper in African Journalism Studies Award.

Abstract: Drawing on an African feminist autoethnography framework grounded in a decolonial philosophy of Bilchiinsi, I present critical reflections on my experiences as an African scholar conducting research on media studies in Ghana. I argue that although canonical theories can be useful in theorizing African media systems, it is imperative to decolonize research by first looking to Indigenous African epistemologies and knowledge systems to support knowledge production in media studies and communication(s).