Human Rights and African Airwaves

Human Rights and African Airwaves

Mediating Equality on the Chichewa Radio
Harri Englund
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/03/2011
Format: Paperback 9 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22347-0
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Human Rights and African Airwaves focuses on Nkhani Zam'maboma, a popular Chichewa news bulletin broadcast on Malawi’s public radio. The program often takes authorities to task and questions much of the human rights rhetoric that comes from international organizations. Highlighting obligation and mutual dependence, the program expresses, in popular idioms and local narrative forms, grievances and injustices that are closest to Malawi’s impoverished public. Harri Englund reveals broadcasters’ everyday struggles with state-sponsored biases and a listening public with strong views and a critical ear. This fresh look at African-language media shows how Africans effectively confront inequality, exploitation, and poverty.

Author Bio

Harri Englund is Reader in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He is author of Prisoners of Freedom: Human Rights and the African Poor, winner of the 2006 Amaury Talbot Prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute.


“An inspired choice of topic. The conceptual framework within which it is presented has been worked out with impressive clarity and delicacy.”
 — Karin Barber, University of Birmingham

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Table of Contents

Part 1. Human Rights, African Alternatives
1. Rights and Wrongs on the Radio
2. Obligations to Dogs: Between Liberal and Illiberal Analytics
3. Against the Occult: Journalists and Scholars in Search of Alternatives
Part 2. The Ethos of Equality
4. A Nameless Genre: Newsreading as Storytelling
5. Inequality Is Old News: Editors as Authors
6. Stories Become Persons: Producing Knowledge about Injustice
Part 3. The Aesthetic of Claims
7. Cries and Whispers: Shaming without Naming
8. Christian Critics: An Illiberal Public?
9. Beyond the Parity Principle
Appendix 1. Presidential News
Appendix 2. Graveyard Visit
Appendix 3. Drunken Children
Appendix 4. Giant Rat
Appendix 5. Reclaiming Virginity
Appendix 6. The Truth about Porridge
Appendix 7. "Makiyolobasi Must Stop Bewitching at Night"

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