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About this book

This book brings together contributions that analyse different ways in which migration and xenophobia have been mediated in both mainstream and social media in Africa and the meanings of these different mediation practices across the continent. It is premised on the assumption that the media play an important role in mediating the complex intersection between migration, identity, belonging, and xenophobia (or what others have called Afrophobia), through framing stories in ways that either buttress stereotyping and Othering, or challenge the perceptions and representations that fuel the violence inflicted on so-called foreign nationals. The book deals with different expressions of xenophobic violence, including both physical and emotional violence, that target the foreign Other in different African countries.

Table of Contents


Conceptualising Xenophobia, Migration and Media


Chapter 1. Mediation, Migration and Xenophobia: Critical Reflections on the Crisis of Representing the Other in an Increasingly Intolerant World

Migration has become a contentious topic around the world, bringing with it difficult debates on belonging, citizenship, basic human rights and dignity. This chapter sketches the global terrain of these debates and zeros in on the African context. It brings to the fore debates surrounding mediation, migration and xenophobia in an increasingly interconnected world where, ironically, being a migrant is equivalent to being a problem. Migration, in some contexts, is conflated with being a vector of disease, crime and the spoiling of neighbourhoods. Xenophobia is the response by locals as they try to cleanse their communities of these vectors. The chapter also introduces the book and the diverse chapters that compose this volume, addressing topical issues in migration, identity and xenophobia in complex African settings.
Dumisani Moyo, Shepherd Mpofu

Chapter 2. Defying Empirical and Causal Evidence: Busting the Media’s Myth of Afrophobia in South Africa

‘Afrophobia’, as an explanation for attacks on African outsiders in an African country, is a term that has become increasingly utilised in the South African press. This chapter questions the Afrophobia hypothesis, which rests on the idea that attacks on ‘foreigners’ in South Africa are a form of black self-hate. Empirical research conducted on South African attitudes to ‘foreigners’ following violent attacks on immigrants and others seriously undermine the Afrophobia hypothesis. The author finds that ‘xenophobia’ provides a much stronger conceptual framework around which to explain violence directed at perceived or actual outsiders. Bias within the media itself, as well as a lack of critical reporting and the underreporting of smaller-scale incidents, means the media has a propensity to uncritically adopt explanations such as Afrophobia.
Laura Freeman

Chapter 3. Talk Radio and the Mediation of Xenophobic Violence in South Africa

This study seeks to provide insight into the ways audiences of Radio 702, an urban commercial South African radio station, talk about and engage with issues of xenophobia and immigrants, with a particular focus on how the host of the show navigates the debates. This study contributes to the existing body of research on mediated forms of xenophobia. Theoretically, the notions of the public sphere and the imagined community inform the chapter. Of interest is how the callers and the host, by using the deixis of ‘we/us/our’ or ‘them/they/their’, construct multiple imagined communities and narratives of exclusion or inclusion. Methodologically, a combination of thematic and discourse analysis is employed to analyse selected experts from the talk show data sets.
Dumisani Moyo, Sarah Helen Chiumbu

Chapter 4. Media, Migrants and Movement: A Comparative Study of the Coverage of Migration Between Two Pairs of Sub-Saharan Countries

News media play a fundamental role in shaping discourses across a wide range of public interests. This chapter analyses how issues of migration are reported by 14 online news media in four African countries, namely South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania. The media were monitored and analysed over a six-month period. Results indicate that in all four countries, stories about migration were dominated by political and legal approaches, and by the voices and views of the sociopolitical elite. The coverage failed to explore the opinions of the very people most affected by migration and thus presented a very narrow and simplistic view of migration issues.
William Bird, Thandi Smith, Sarah Findlay

Chapter 5. Knowledge, the Media and Anti-immigrant Hate Crime in South Africa: Where Are the Connections?

Not much has been known about the sources of information used by ordinary people when seeking information on foreign nationals residing in their country. This chapter reports on the results of a study aimed at establishing which information sources individuals trust most. Data from the South African Social Attitudes Survey was used for this study. The study results indicate that mass media are most frequently cited as the trusted source of information on foreign nationals. An important finding is that the more knowledgeable an individual is about international migration, the more pro-immigrant their views are. New insights are offered on how a progressive education and awareness campaign can be designed to combat xenophobia.
Steven Lawrence Gordon

Chapter 6. Quantitative Linguistic Analysis of Representations of Immigrants in the South African Print Media, 2011–2015

This study analyses the representation of immigrants in South African print media, using corpora linguistics quantitative methods. It demonstrates that quantitative methods can provide a more nuanced understanding of issues such as immigration, migrants and xenophobia. The advantages that come with computation and automation mean that large quantities of data can be manipulated to produce exceptional patterns and trends that can illuminate existing qualitative research on the subject. Broadly, the findings are consistent with prior qualitative research, especially when it comes to how the media associate immigrants with ‘illegality’, ‘undesirability’ and ‘crime’, and even invoke authorities to take action on ‘illegal’ immigrants.
Nixon K. Kariithi

Framing the Other—From Outside Looking In


Chapter 7. Xenophobia, the Media and the West African Integration Agenda

West African postcolonial states have been confronted by peace and security threats that have stunted the region’s quest for regionalism and sustainable security. While conventional conflicts like civil wars, ethnic conflict, electoral violence and, more recently, terrorism are prevalent, violent manifestations of xenophobia have also become a recurrent threat to the peace, security and development of the region. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) initiated the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons to fast-track regional integration and remove all obstacles to socio-economic discrimination against immigrants. Despite this, anti-immigration policies and practices are prevalent in a number of member states. This chapter interrogates ECOWAS’s free movement policy, and xenophobic trends and the influence of the media on rising xenophobia in West Africa. It was found that while the media exacerbate xenophobia, bad governance, political considerations and the non-involvement of the West African people in the ECOWAS integration agenda are the main causes of xenophobia in West Africa.
Adeoye O. Akinola

Chapter 8. National Identity and Representation of Xenophobia in Mozambican Private and Public Television

This chapter analyses the intersection between Mozambican media content about xenophobia in South Africa and the national political ideologies in postcolonial Mozambique. The study reported on here used critical discourse analysis to extract meanings and ideologies embedded in coverage by two Mozambican television stations, their framing of the xenophobic events in South Africa in 2015 and the implications for Mozambican migrants in that country. This approach made it possible to interpret the different ways in which the Mozambican media contributed to building a sense of national identity with Mozambican migrants in South Africa. The study also illustrated how the selected media generated information that informed as regards both resilience and pacification in a moment of crisis.
Tânia Machonisse

Chapter 9. ‘They Are Vampires, Unlike Us’: Framing of South African Xenophobia by the Nigerian Press

The framing by two Nigerian newspapers, The Punch and The Daily Independent, of xenophobic attacks on Nigerian citizens in South Africa in 2017 are reported on in this chapter. Our findings suggest that frames that dichotomised South Africans and non-South Africans into ‘us versus them’ dominated Nigerian press coverage. Equally prevalent were frames that sought to present the Nigerian government as strong and decisive in engaging with its South African counterpart on the attacks. We further note that there was a prevalence of confrontational frames and victimisation frames that sought to represent Nigerians as victims of unjustifiable cruelty. The press’ reliance on episodic framing rather than thematic framing contributed to the failure to contextualise xenophobic outbreaks in South Africa.
Allen Munoriyarwa, Chisom Jennifer Okoye

Belonging, Identity Construction


Chapter 10. ‘Uganda Can Protect Chinese Investors but Not Its Own Citizens?’ Paradoxical Perspectives in Xenophobic Narratives and Practices Fostering Otherness in Uganda

Relations between citizens and migrants are tenuous in most countries. The Ugandan government has courted Chinese investors by establishing infrastructure to enable them to establish themselves in the country and help grow the economy. Dissatisfaction with Chinese investors is cited as one of the reasons for public protests in Uganda in 2017. This chapter seeks to explore narratives about otherness prevalent in the Ugandan society, as manifested in the media. It is proposed that if narratives of negative othering are not acknowledged or challenged, they have the potential of flaring up into retribution by citizens against the Others. Strategies need to be put into place to avoid the ruin of a carefully planned development programme.
Elizabeth Lubinga

Chapter 11. Feminisation of Migration: A Thematic Analysis of News Media Texts About Zimbabwean Migrants in South Africa

While migration was previously dominated by males, the trends have been for increasing numbers of women to migrate, a phenomenon dubbed the feminisation of migration. Human movement of this magnitude has not evaded surveillance by the media. This study considered reports on Zimbabwean women migrants from 2012 to 2015 by five Johannesburg-based newspapers. News stories written about the women migrants were retrieved from the news websites through content analysis. A search using the phrase ‘Zimbabwean women migrants in Johannesburg’ was conducted on the newspapers’ Websites. Twenty stories were analysed using the grounded theory method (GTM). A key finding was that the media were not only instrumental in constructing negative themes about migrant women, but also in redefining their identities.
Joanah Gadzikwa, Nicola-Jane Jones

Chapter 12. ‘Africa Must Be … One Place, One Country’: Xenophobia and the Unmediated Representation of African Migrants in South Africa

This chapter reports on a study of the interrelationships between two migrant groups, namely Egyptians and Malawians, and South African Indians in Johannesburg. Based on a broader qualitative study that sought to understand the construction of migrant communities in Johannesburg, the study reveals that new migrant communities withdraw into enclaves, allowing new identities to emerge where social networks and social capital facilitate economic and social integration. In their search for community and a sense of belonging, migrants develop a contingent and instrumental solidarity, which closely relates to place and space. An interesting tension that was explored arose between African migrants and South African Indians concerning xenophobia and the migrants’ claim of belonging to Africa, which at times resulted in a contingent solidarity and at other times an instrumental solidarity.
Pragna Rugunanan

Chapter 13. Complicity and Condonation: The Tabloid Press and Reporting of Migrant Access to Public Health in South Africa

A study on the South African tabloid press’ reporting on migrant access to the country’s public health services is covered in this chapter. We highlight the conspicuously scanty editorial representation of the constitutional breach and negligent behaviour of some public health workers by denying immigrants access to healthcare. Our analyses show that the tabloid press focused more on the sufferings, legalities and indigence of the victims than on the public health system that responded poorly to the plight of migrants. This approach overlooked the existing statutory migration policies and international human rights obligations. An overview is provided of the press’ prejudiced coverage of migrant access to public health from a ‘limited resources’ narrative rather than a ‘human rights’ perspective.
Thabiso Muswede, Shepherd Mpofu

Chapter 14. Gateways and Gatekeepers: Social Media and the (Re)Defining of Somali Identity in Kenya’s Security Operations

The role of social media in advancing narratives that reproduce power relationships in a predominantly Somali neighbourhood of Nairobi is the topic of this chapter. With a focus on the security operations of the Kenyan government, particularly Usalama Watch, in relation to terrorism concerns, we argue that the narratives about the conflict have largely been framed on two levels, both of which have excluded significant minority groups. This reinforced existing inequalities in the Somali social structure. The conflict narratives were framed first by the government and second by powerful interests within the Somali community, both offering similar homogeneous perspectives that reinforced certain notions of Somali identity. Despite the important role of social media in the Somali community during security actions such as Operation Usalama Watch, minority voices remained marginalised.
Gianluca Iazzolino, Nicole Stremlau

Social Media and Framing the Margins


Chapter 15. Social Media, Migration and Xenophobia in the Horn of Africa

Migration is an indelible aspect of twenty-first-century life. This chapter examines one of the key elements, namely social media, that contribute to the reduction of social distance among the migration constituencies, including people smugglers and networks of family and friends, that are involved in the phenomenon. The push and pull factors of migration, as well as the challenges faced by migrants during the migratory process and at their destination, including xenophobia or Afrophobia, are also examined through the sociological prism of social media. This qualitative study focuses on Horn of Africa migration to South Africa, with special emphasis on Ethiopian migration. The findings indicate that social media play a pivotal role in inducing migration by way of the networks that facilitate it.
Ayalkibet Berhanu Tesfaye

Chapter 16. Not Just a Foreigner: ‘Progressive’ (Self-)Representations of African Migrants in the Media

In the light of a scholarly gap, we identify and profile discourses of migration and xenophobia in the media that deconstruct mainstream representations of African migrants who are often perceived and constructed as socio-cultural and economic burdens. In particular, we profile progressive (self)-representations of African migrants on different platforms such as digital, print and social media. The media here doubles as a vehicle for social transformation and conflict. Framing media as a tool for conflict permits an assessment of whether migrants’ discourses point at a causal relationship between mainstream or social media reporting and xenophobic violence, while the progressive social transformation aspect grapples with the extent to which different media platforms can either transcend or remedy the ‘us’ and ‘them’ tension-ridden divide between South Africans and African migrants.
Kezia Batisai, Patrick Dzimiri

Chapter 17. ‘They All Speak English So Well …’ a Decolonial Analysis of ‘Positive’ Representations of Zimbabwean Migrants by South Africans on Social Media

Black migrants from the African continent are largely constructed as the undesirable Other in South African public discourse. While many scholars have researched this topic extensively, not many have looked at ‘positive’ representations by South Africans of African migrants. This chapter highlights and deconstructs some ‘positive’ representations of Zimbabweans residing in South Africa as articulated by South African Facebook users. Zimbabweans are lauded for their education, abilities to speak English well, hard work and pleasant personalities. However, I contend that celebrating the ways Zimbabweans speak English well, for example, upholds coloniality. The ‘compliments’ are devoid of any critical analysis of the colonial history of the language, and they perpetuate and buttress the problematic positioning of fluent English speakers as superior.
Selina Linda Mudavanhu

Chapter 18. Picturing Xenophobia: Photojournalism and Xenophobic Violence in South Africa

This chapter is distinctive in the sense that it is a transcript of an interview that one of the editors, Dumisani Moyo, had with two leading South African photojournalists, Alon Skuy and James Oatway. The two are renowned for producing some of the most iconic headline photographs on xenophobic violence in South Africa over the past decade, highlighting the role of photojournalism in mediating the reality of xenophobia. The interview explores the ethical dimensions of photojournalism in conflict situations and the power dynamics that take place in the image selection processes at various levels, from the field to publication stage. By focusing on how individual photojournalists struggle or deal with the trauma of capturing some of the grisly moments of xenophobic violence, the interviewer demonstrates the tensions experienced in an attempt to serve the public interest, while at the same time protecting society from images of graphic and gratuitous violence. The photojournalists provide rare and interesting insights that are both reflective and self-critical when reporting on the phenomenon of xenophobia in South Africa.
Dumisani Moyo


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