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Book launch: Searching for a New Kenya

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10/11/2021 | 5.00pm – 6.30pm

Searching for a New Kenya: Politics and social media on the streets of Mombasa

What happens to the democratic public sphere as it shifts from in-person to online channels?

From the electoral surprises of 2016 to COVID-19, democracy appears to be in crisis. The digitalisation of politics poses a particular challenge to democracy, as misinformation abounds and citizens are swept up in conspiracies.

In Searching for a New Kenya, Stephanie Diepeveen asks, “What happens to the democratic public sphere as it shifts from in-person to online channels?”

Drawing from ethnographic study of popular politics on the street and on social media in Kenya, Dr Diepeveen finds that while pessimism about digital democracy is premature, some critical aspects of public debate are sacrificed in the shift online.

Through a critical revision of Hannah Arendt’s ideas about action and power, this book explores the limitations and possibilities of using the Western canon to interrogate politics elsewhere. In so doing, Dr Diepeveen raises important questions about both how we study politics, and what is lost and gained as public discussion moves online.

Dr Diepeveen will be joined to discuss these issues with Professor Wendy Willems, LSE, Dr Job Mwaura, University of Cape Town, and Dr Matt Mahmoudi, Amnesty International – Technology. The launch will be chaired by Dr Sharath Srinivasan, inaugural Director of the Centre of Governance & Human Rights, Cambridge. 

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