Toussaint Nothias is the Associate Director of Research at Stanford University’s Digital Civil Society Lab, a Research Scholar in the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS), and a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for African Studies.
He is a global communication scholar whose research focuses on journalism, civil society, and digital technologies across Africa. His research explores the legacy of colonial power relations on contemporary media representations, practices, institutions, and networks. His research agenda is structured along two axes. The first one concentrates on representations of Africa in global news. The second explores the intersection of digital technologies, journalism, and civil society across African contexts.
His most recent research project traces the history of one of the most notorious and controversial initiatives by tech corporations to increase connectivity across the Global South: Facebook’s Free Basics project. His earlier research examined stereotypes in global news coverage of Africa through the analysis of media content and interviews with journalists in Kenya and South Africa. Emerging from this research, he created the “Africa Stereotype Scanner” project, a digital tool designed to identify and address damaging stereotypes and implicit biases in news writing about Africa.
His work has been published in various journals including the Journal of Communication; Media, Culture, Society; Journalism Studies; Communication, Culture, Critique; African Journalism Studies, Visual Communication and the International Journal of Communication.
His paper "Postcolonial Reflexivity in the News Industry" received the ICA-wide Outstanding Article Award and, his paper "A ‘Hotbed’ of Digital Empowerment? Media Criticism in Kenya Between Playful Engagement and Co-Option" with David Cheruiyot, received the IAMCR Stuart Hall Award. His research has been frequently covered in the news, including in Wired, Al Jazeera, the MIT Tech Review, Motherboard, National Geographic, and Quartz.
As research director of the Digital Civil Society Lab, he conceptualizes and coordinates the Lab’s research agenda, and leads the Lab’s core scholarly programs, including its postdoctoral program, courses, and scholar workshops and events. In this role, he collaborates with scholars, technologists, social sector leaders, community organizers, students, and policy makers to support the use of digital resources that is safe, equitable, purposeful, and supportive of human dignity and collective action.
Prior to joining the Digital Civil Society Lab, Toussaint completed his PhD within the School of Media & Communication at the University of Leeds(UK), was a research associate on the “Media, Conflict & Democratisation” project at the University of Oxford, worked as a lecturer in the Center for African Studies and completed a postdoc at the Digital Civil Society Lab, both at Stanford.
While at the LSE, Dr Nothias is working on two papers. The first provides an intellectual history of the global movement emerging at the crossroads of academia and civil society and calling to decolonize digital technologies. The other paper assesses how Facebook's zero-rating scheme shapes media pluralism in several African countries.