Social Media Influencers and the New Political Economy in South Asia and Africa
April 7-8, 2022, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
In Person at Room 2435, North Quad, 105 State Street, Ann Arbor, and available Online through Registration
Sponsored by the Center for South Asian Studies, the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, and the African Studies Center
Apply to Attend (coming soon)
Joyojeet Pal, School of Information, University of Michigan
Omolade Adunbi, DAAS, University of Michigan
Dipto Das, College of Media, Communication and Information, University of Colorado, Boulder
Anmol Panda, School of Information, University of Michigan
Agrima Seth, School of Information, University of Michigan
Alfred Momodu, MIRS, University of Michigan
Social media influencer activity on platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn are now pivotal to social influence in societies around the world, as the ecology of the public sphere gets increasingly crafted, amplified, or negated by what happens online. This is as true, or more so in the Global South, where social media has often served as the gateway for entry into the online realm for millions of technology users with little or no prior experience. The resulting world is one in which the boundaries between the physical and the virtual has fundamentally reshaped power equations between the citizens and the state, their culture, and their communities.
This symposium at the University of Michigan is focused on social media influencers, and brings a host of leaders, artistes, journalists, activists, commentators, and scholars from two of the fastest growing Internet-using regions of the world to discuss how they interact online, what drives their activities and success, and how being public figures online impacts their lives and work.
Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Nigeria
Swara Bhasker, Actor and activist
Olubunmi Ojediran, Actor and entrepreneur, Ruby Sparkling Films
Rumman Chowdhury, Director of ML Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability, Twitter
Rajeev Gowda, Former Member of Parliament, India
Aminu Mahmud, Political activist
Josy Joseph, Author, Journalist
Aakar Patel, Author, Head of Amnesty International India
Akash Banerjee, Comedian, Founder, TheDeshBhakt
Katrien Pype, Associate Professor, KU Leuven
Priya Ramani, Journalist, Founder IndiaLove project
Priyanka Paul, Artist
Anurag, Comedian and caste activist
Shehla Rashid, Activist, researcher
Andre Gonawela, Podcaster
Samar Al Bulushi, Assistant Professor, UCIrvine
Seyram Avle, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Hardik Rajgor, Writer
Gurmehar Kaur, Author
Sophie Zhang, Whistleblower (TO BE CONFIRMED)
1. Social Media Influencers and the Body
This segment will present works on the ways bodies are shaped and reshaped online through influencers, scholars, and practitioners who work on aspects of gender, body, and public image. Speakers will include gender activists, fashion, lifestyle and exercise influencers on Instagram, and those who study them.
2. Social Media Influencers and the Publics
This segment will present works on the way media engagement has changed with online influencers. Speakers will include journalists, PR consultants, factcheckers, and independent news media creators, and those who study them.
3. Social Media Influencers and Politics
This segment will present works on the ways political engagement has changed with politicians and parties creating content online. Speakers will include politicians, party social media executives, and activists, particularly those active on Twitter and Whatsapp, and those who study them.
4. Social Media Influencers and Culture
This segment will present works on ways culture – food, travel, history are articulated on social media by influencers. Speakers will include YouTube influencers specializing in food and travel, social media executives, culture-specific commentators active on Twitter, and those who study them.