1. The Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS) provides a new platform to
    debate issues about media, communication and culture in Africa. Our first
    goal is to promote the often neglected but important area of media
    research in Africa. This is borne out of a realization that most African
    countries have different but shared geographies, histories and experiences.
    Although the mass media were brought from outside the continent during
    colonialism they now become a formidable power with influence on many
    aspects of life on the African continent. JAMS aims to promote research
    that deals with the everyday lived experiences of individuals and communities
    in their interaction with different kinds of media. The journal interprets
    media in the broadest possible sense, incorporating not only formal
    ‘mass’ media, such as radio, television, print, Internet and mobile telephony,
    but also ‘informal’, ‘small’ or ‘indigenous’ media such as music, jokes
    and theatre.

    The second imperative for JAMS derives from our desire to contribute to
    the growing body of empirical work in media, communication and cultural
    studies. In this regard, JAMS complements other existing English-language
    and area-focused media, communication and cultural studies journals
    that promote research on marginalized and often ignored contexts (e.g.,
    Latin America, Middle East and Asia).

    The third related, and more political, imperative for JAMS arose from
    the now firm realization that the bulk of work in media theory is ‘based
    upon data from just two spots, Britain and the United States, which have
    […] remarkably similar leitmotifs in their cultural, economic and political
    history that mark them out from other nations on the planet’ (Downing
    1996: x). We see the role of JAMS as providing perspectives that help free
    the field from the stranglehold of theories from one particular context (see
    also Ake 1982; Sparks 1998; Nuttall and Michael 1999; Park and Curran
    2000; Hart and Young 2003; Abbas and Erni 2004; McMillin 2006;
    Thussu 2007). We aim to contribute to the ongoing re-positioning of
    media and cultural studies outside the Anglo-American axis. Left unchallenged,
    this gives rise to ‘the most often mistaken impression that the
    Western text and Western ways of making meaning are universal, and,
    therefore, to be copied by academics the world over’ (Nyamnjoh 1999:
    17–18). We are particularly interested in fresh empirical evidence and
    theoretical perspectives that help engage with the dominance of Western
    theories in the global field of media and communication.

    This inaugural issue comprises two parts. The first half of the issue
    engages with the meaning and positioning of ‘African media studies’ and
    evaluates past and present work in the field. The second part provides case
    studies on the relation between media and social change in different parts
    of Africa and highlights the importance of music, oratory and popular culture
    in mediating social and political commentary.

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