This panel explores the methodological innovations and ethical challenges of the use of new information and communication technologies (ICT) in the study of political and social change in Africa.
This panel explores challenges and benefits of the use of new information and communication technologies (ICT) in the study of African political and social dynamics. New ICT offer valuable tools and create new spaces of expression and mobilisation North and South of the Sahara. Yet ICT are not only an object of research: academics use them daily to engage with actors, retrieve information and even generate data. Here, the ethical and methodological implications have been understudied. Moreover, new ICT in Africa have become hugely popular with international donors, development partners, NGOs, opinion polls organisations and other business actors, and the frontiers of research and academia have become particularly porous. Papers will explore the ethical challenges involved in these different configurations, as well as the methodological approaches to collect and analyse ICT based data, especially on topics such as conflict early warning and public opinion, offered by ICT, particularly when combining 'old' and 'new' media tools/spaces. They will also analyse the specific challenges and advances contained in using new ICT and/or focusing on the use of new ICT when conducting ethnographic field research. Last but not least, they will interrogate how these interactions impact scientific production and knowledge on the politics of Africa.