BRICS Media Symposium stimulates collaboration

12 Sep 2018 - 11:00
BRICS representatives Brasilina Passarelli (Brazil), Elena Vartanova (Russia), Sanjay Bharthur (India), Chen Changfeng (China) and Herman Wasserman (South Africa).
BRICS representatives Brasilina Passarelli (Brazil), Elena Vartanova (Russia), Sanjay Bharthur (India), Chen Changfeng (China) and Herman Wasserman (South Africa).


The Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT), in collaboration with the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC) based in Berlin, Germany, hosted a symposium on 6 and 7 September 2018 at UCT The event aimed to analyse and stimulate future collaborated research on the impact of digitalisation processes on society in BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

A range of leading scholars from Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Germany and Finland, as well as South African practitioners and policymakers, presented their expertise on BRICS media and digitisation.

CFMS’ Prof Herman Wasserman commenced the symposium by welcoming the delegates, followed by a keynote address from Dr Jens Wendland from the DOC. The first panel, on the Political Economy of BRICS Digital Media, featured Prof Dmitrii Gavra (St-Petersburg State University) on the digitalisation of capitalism; Dr Bob Wekesa (Wits) on the political economy of Multichoice Africa and StarTimes; and Prof Lisa Thompson (UWC) described the multi-polar myth-making of BRICS present in South African media.

A Skype session with Prof Nick Couldry, (London School of Economics and Political Science), and Dr Fernando Paulino Oliveira (University of Brasilia) followed. The first day ended with a cocktail function and the screening of the award-winning documentary on South Africa’s former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, titled “Whispering Truth to Power” by Shameela Seedat.

Prof Kaarle Nordenstreng started the conversation on the second day with his keynote address on “a global order under challenge.” The first panel of the day focused on BRICS media systems and values, and featured Prof Jack Qiu (Chinese University of Hong Kong) on alternative digital media systems from BRICS; Prof Chen Changfeng (Tsinghua University) offering a Chinese perspective on media values in an age of algorithms; and Nikita Konopaltsev (DOC) on prospects and challenges on values in BRICS media systems.

The second panel titled “Social media, digital divides and activism,” featured Dr Deqiang Ji (Communication University of China) on his research on the Chinese social media platform “WeChat”; Prof Elena Vartanova (Moscow State University) on the digital divide as a global and national issue from a BRICS perspective; and Prof Sanjay Bharthur (University of Hyderabad) focused on similar concerns in the Indian context.

The last academic panel focused digital platforms in every day life. Klemens Witte (DOC) presented on the impact of smartphone-based apps on the BRICS economy, while Dr Leonardo Custodio (University of Tampere) addressed the challenges for marginalised voices in Brazil’s Digital Age. Dr Alette Schoon (Rhodes University), presented on the digital media practices of less-connected South Africans, and Prof Brasilina Passarelli (University of Sao Paulo) concluded by presenting her research centre called the School of the Future.

The final session of the symposium focused on media practice in BRICS nations, and featured Sanusha Naidu (Institute for Global Dialogue), Krish Chetty (Human Sciences Research Council), and Songezo Ralarala (Media24).

The symposium was successful in continuing the debate around the relevance of BRICS as a research topic, as well as the digital media advancement of the world's leading emerging economies. By bringing together researchers with BRICS expertise, new research ideas and collaboration emerged, generating a promising future for interdisciplinary, comparative, global and regional academic research on the BRICS nations.

To find live tweets from the symposium, follow our Twitter account, or hashtag #BRICSmedia.