Talk and Workshop on “Media and Cultural Education” @Education is Relation not Output?-Conference (Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden)

Education is Relation not Output

The conference

It has been a great pleasure to attend the recent conference “Education is Relation not Output? – Scenes of Knowledge and Knowledge Acquisition” (May 17th-19th 2016) at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden.

The conference was held in cooperation with the international scientific network Tacit Dimensions of Pedagogy. The conference’s purpose was as follows:

Re-thinking the idea of university and scholarly life means to critically examine the conditions for teaching in terms of the current policy discourses and freely develop an idea of university out of an international perspectiveUniversity does not exist simply to convey information or expertise. It is a society in which everyone is responsible for in a reflected way participating in diverse relationships to him-/herself, to others and to the world, and, based on diverse forms of knowledge and representation, actively forming them. In this conference combined with other spaces for discussion perspective on university as a place for social development will be opened up by academic scholars as well as by professionals in the fields of school as well as of art.

My contribution on “Media and Cultural Education”

My own contribution was a talk and workshop that was held within the panel “Art, Visual Culture and Media“.

In my opening talk, I was aiming for tapping into the idea of shaping a perspective on university as a place for social development from an international perspective beyond simply conveying expertise, but to see the university as responsible in helping people to advance in a direction of reflectively participating in diverse relationships to oneself, others and the world.

Especially since contemporary life is happening in spaces of intense proximity, where the interdependence of the diverse nations and cultures becomes more and more obvious, it is important to empower people to competently navigate those spaces. Hence, I proposed an increased emphasis on and discussion of media and cultural education as a means to social cohesion within the university as a place of public education.

The conference paper of the talk (ca. 10 pages) can be downloaded here (pdf-file). A book publication as a conference outcome is forthcoming. My paper will be found there as an official publication then, too.

Dear CNN, what, please, is ‚African food‘? Thank you!

African Food, CNN

I mean, honestly – we go to Italian, Greek and Croatian restaurants. We might even go out for a Thai dinner or to the Chinese guy around the corner. Why on earth do we, then, have to eat ‚African food‘? Why can’t we simply enjoy Ethiopian, Gambian, South African, or Tunisian cuisine? Just asking.

Anyway, the people you interview, like Pierre Thiam, try really hard to give you a nuanced feel of e.g. different West African countries and even ethnicities. But why bother listening and pick up on that in your online-reporting.

New York’s African food porn moment –

African Slum Journal – giving the slums of Nairobi a voice

African Slum Journal is a  biweekly video episode which tells about the life of people living in slum communities. A weak media sector provides scope for corruption and inequality. By giving African slums a voice we will strengthen the local media sector together with the people who live in the slum.

The video journal is mostly from Nairobi (Kenya) – at times from other parts of East Africa. It’s a great source of non-mainstream coverage of the everyday lives of a certain urban population. Often hopeful, sometimes less – but always real, at last.

African Slum Journal – Giving the slums of Nairobi, Kenya a voice | African Slum Journal

Africa’s Mickey Mouse: Ugandan Artists offer alternative visual worlds with local relevance

Graduates from Kampala (Uganda) have created Katoto, a whacky old man from a south-western Ugandan tribe who can be described “as your funny uncle who gets up to mischief”.

The interesting thing about Katoto is that it incorporates local relevancies (e.g. ethnicity, belonging) while at the same time tapping into more global phenomena (e.g. Katoto taking on the “Ice Bucket-Challenge” or trying to take a “Selfie”). Notably, the format of the cartoon takes into account available local media settings; and mobile phones, like in other African countries, are among the probably most widely spread media forms. Considering that, the Katoto-cartoons are relatively short in duration (about 1 minute), so they can be easily shared via WhatsApp [ref]From my own field research in Nairobi (Kenya), I have found that WhatsApp, in the last year or so, has become increasingly popular and started to be used more widely, i.e. not by upper class elites only. [/ref]. There is also a Katoto YouTube-Channel, containing eight videos that have been watched about 133.000 times all-together at the time of writing this post.

Key to the creation of Katoto, according to its creators, are the culture and language of the Ugandan people. Katoto is a chance of a Ugandan self-portrait in an entertaining way. In order to make the strips accessible and convey meaning beyond the local language that Katoto speaks (and one that is also neither understood by all Ugandans nor by all of Katotos creators), the character and jokes are made as physical as possible, being “almost like pantomime”.

Source: “Ugandan dream to create a global cartoon character” (BBC; Clip on YouTube)


Apple to release diversified emojis soon

diversified emojis_selection


If you look at Apple’s emoji keyboard, what do you see? Two different camels. A smiling turd. EVERY PHASE OF THE MOON. There are currently over 800 emoji, but only two represent people of color (Source:

In a reaction to long-standing criticism, diversification is finally going to hit Apples product line. The new beta versions of iOS 8.3 and OSX 10.10.3 (available to software developers) will be adding 300 new emojis. The option for using the diversified emojis can be selected by clicking/tapping and holding on any character. A pop-up will then present the diversified range to choose from. In my opinion, the two most important updates are:

  • the option to choose from emojis of six different skin colors (inlcuding symbolic characters like *thumbs up* or *clapping hands*)
  •  more family icons, including same-sex couples and families.

Binyavanga Wainaina on “helping” Africa

Race-bending Disney Characters

The artist TT that runs the Tumblr Let There Be Doodles has created some truly amazing race-bent Disney characters as Women of Color. These challenge the imagination and set a reminder that non-white representations of beauty are still marginalized in the West. When asked, why TT started the “Racebent Disney series”, the answer was rather straight-forward:

For fun. I had no political agenda in mind for these edits (except maybe the desire to see a little more diversity), I just love working with character design. :)

Below, I’ve posted my favorites – some more are to be found in TT’s posts part 1 and part 2.



tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o9_r1_1280  tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o8_r2_1280




tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o3_1280  tumblr_n4vpq6k64b1s0mof7o2_1280



People of Color (PoC)-Emoticons out

140429181000-oju-logo-horizontal-galleryA Mauritius based app-company called Oju Africa has recently launched an Emoji-app that allows any Android device to use black/poc emoticons. The move came in order to promote racial diversity in mobile characters. The word “Oju” means “faces” in the Nigerian Yoruba language.

The app is available from Google play-store and should shortly be available for iOS as well.

Source: The African app company that trumped Apple to launch first black emoticons (from CNN)




Oju Africa emoticon


Africa is NOT a country

no need to be saved

“Africa is not a country” is an imaginative do away with your stereotypes-campaign that is carried out on social media by the African Students Association of New York’s Ithaca College. The idea basically is to have ethnically different people posing being wrapped into different African national flags, each being accompanied with a slogan that addresses a cliché perceived to be quite typical for ‘westerners’.

// For the CNN-coverage of the campaign, see here.
// Find the Facebook page of the African Students Association here (click on photos to see all the other campaign-images).