person

Toussaint Nothias

Toussaint Nothias

Dr. Toussaint Nothias is the Associate Director of Research at the Digital Civil Society Lab, a Social Science Research Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and a faculty affiliate of the Center for African Studies.

He is a global communication scholar whose research focuses on journalism, civil society, and digital technologies across Africa. His most recent research project traces the history of one of the most notorious and controversial initiatives by tech corporations to increase connectivity across the Global South: Facebook’s Free Basics project. Public and scholarly attention focused on its ban in India following nationwide protests about net neutrality. In Africa, however, Free Basics expanded without much public scrutiny to some 32 countries. Drawing on an innovative virtual private network (VPN)-based method, this research explores two key interrelated phenomena behind this quiet expansion: (1) Facebook’s evolving communication strategy, including a greater engagement with civil society organizations and (2) the focus of digital rights activists in Africa on issues like Internet shutdowns, government surveillance, and the lack of data privacy frameworks

Toussaint’s earlier research examined stereotypes in global news coverage of Africa through the analysis of media content and interviews with journalists in Kenya and South Africa. Emerging from this research, he created the “Africa Stereotype Scanner” project, a digital tool designed to identify and address damaging stereotypes and implicit biases in news writing about Africa.

His work has been published in leading communication journals including the Journal of CommunicationMedia, Culture, SocietyJournalism Studies, and the International Journal of Communication. His paper “Postcolonial Reflexivity in the News Industry” received the ICA-wide Outstanding Article Award and his paper “A ‘Hotbed’ of Digital Empowerment? Media Criticism in Kenya Between Playful Engagement and Co-Option”, received the IAMCR Stuart Hall Award.

At the Lab, Toussaint conceptualizes and coordinates the Lab’s research agenda, and leads the core scholarly programs, including the postdoctoral program, courses, and scholar workshops and events. In this role, he collaborates with internal and external stakeholders, including faculty, practitioners, students, and other university and community-based networks to promote a vibrant intellectual community around the Lab’s research areas. In the Spring of 2022, he will be a visiting scholar in the Media and Communications Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Prior to joining DCSL, he completed his PhD within the School of Media & Communication at the University of Leeds (UK),  was a research associate on the “Media, Conflict & Democratisation” project at the University of Oxford, worked as a lecturer in the Center for African Studies and completed a postdoc at the Digital Civil Society Lab, both at Stanford. For more info, see his personal webpage: toussaintnothias.com