Research Seminar: 'We have failed as a continent': covering an African atrocity for an African audience

A talk by James Wahutu (NYU / Harvard) on how African countries covered the atrocities in Darfur in the early 2000s.

Please note this event will be held online via Microsoft Teams. To request an invitation to this event, please email by 3pm on Wednesday 9 December.


This talk revolves around how African countries covered the atrocities in Darfur between 2003 and 2008. It is informed by a content analysis of newspaper articles from Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa, as well as interviews with journalists based in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Uganda that covered and traveled to Darfur during this period. It will discuss the marginalization of African journalists by African journalism fields and the marginalization of African voices by African journalists in their coverage of Darfur.

These twin marginalizations, this talk will show, leads to African journalists and media fields not being primary narrative constructors for African audiences. Being African conspires to produce a condition of invisibility and erasure of African voices in the global narrative construction of knowledge about an atrocity in Africa.


James Wahutu is an Assistant Professor at NYU's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, and a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard. His primary scholarship examines media constructions of knowledge in Africa, with a particular focus on genocide and mass atrocities. His research interests include the effects of ethnicity and culture on the media representations of human rights violations, global and transnational news flows, postcolonial land claims, and the political economy of international media, with a regional emphasis on postcolonial Africa. His book project offers an extensive account of media coverage of Darfur between 2003 and 2008 within various African states (including Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt). He diagnoses some of the ambiguous allegiances within this field, demonstrating the way journalists—albeit critical of Western reportage—recapitulate the ahistorical ethnic rubric found in such coverage. When not studying media and genocide, he works on issues surrounding data privacy, and media manipulation in African countries.