STREAM: The African Writer, Creativity & Survival in the Digital Age

STREAM: The African Writer, Creativity & Survival in the Digital Age

Since the digital revolution in the 1990s, a combination of factors has increasingly liberated media content and distribution owing to media convergence. These combined factors include the deregulation of media industries, industry concentration and ‘the globalization of forms and principles of management’ which, as Enrique Bustamante rightly notes in his articulation of ‘Cultural Industries in the Digital Age’, have converted ‘cultural industries into institutions defined by finance; and, the development of interactive Web 2.0. Consequently, cultural production of texts, music, films, videos, and art have been freed from the exclusive preserve of guilds and professionals; and democratized such that ordinary citizens and amateurs now also use the tools for creative cultural production and distribution. Media content, restrictive cultural forms and formats have also been revolutionized thereby facilitating unfettered access, content distribution and consumption sometimes, without charge or reward to the artist.

Consequently, artists globally have individually or as collectives attempted to negotiate the multiple problems that have accompanied this digital revolution/migration and how to survive as a creative producers in a digital age. One of such attempt is Jack Conte’s Patreon, which makes it possible ‘for [some] artists on the Internet to get paid by their fans’; but, beyond such corporate inventive efforts like YouTube offers, significant attention has not been drawn to the global challenge posed by digitization and media convergence and how these have affected traditional cultural creation, distribution and consumption vis-à-vis reward for artistic talent in digitally challenged global South.

Based on a small baseline study in Nigeria by this author and against the unique African background of digital divide which Bustamante articulates as a whole complex of neo-liberal socio-economic, infrastructural and geographical disadvantages/disabilities that transcend mere digital connectedness or disconnectedness, it becomes necessary to interrogate how the African writer or literary artist from this multiple challenged environment can meaningfully practice and survive within this vortex of constrictive march of digitization/media convergence; and sustainably reap the reward from his/her artistic production, distribution and consumption?

To address this complex of issues, thematically related papers are invited for the two panels below to articulate this problematic specific to the creative writer/artist in an African setting. The Panels are:

Confirmed Panels

Panel 1: The African Writer and Creativity, Production, Distribution and Consumption in the Digital Age

  • Emerging Northern Nigerian Poetry in a Digital Environment, Lyakhovich, Anastasia (St.Petersburg State University, St.Petersburg, Russia)
  • African Literature and Celebrity Status, Kiguru, Doesline (The British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya)
  • Life Narratives in the Context of Afropolitanism: The Creation of Media Hero Image, Khokholkova, Nadezhda (P. G. Demidov State University, Yaroslavl, Russia)

ions please contact Liwhu Betiang (; For panel and paper submissions please follow the instructions on the website 

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