The revolution in information and communications technologies, which had so much promise for broadening access and participation in scholarship, certainly seems much darker and more ominous now. Social media platforms have been weaponized to subvert democracies and weirdly globalize local nationalisms.
More than 200 scholars and students from gathered in Johannesburg for the second in a series of biennial scholarly exchanges on the African continent to celebrate the interdisciplinary connections that help us situate the locus of knowledge production about Africa’s contemporary successes and challenges.
I recall the excitement and democratizing promise of the Internet of the 1990s. I got my first email address in college during that decade. I remember coming home for Winter break and my mother warily asking if I was certain that Hotmail didn’t have a connection to the sex industry. I rolled my eyes at her naiveté. I learned how to download free songs using Napster and to join chat rooms to speak to strangers about topics I had never heard of. Accessing new ideas felt free and frictionless.