Social mediated gender performances and representations: Popular culture, politics and everyday citizenship in Africa

This call for chapters is meant to solicit contributions from academics, activists, creative practitioners and independent researchers with a focus on social media and gender performances and representations in popular culture, politics and everyday citizenship in Africa. Gender, as a social elaboration of the biological category of sex and something we do and perform (West and Zimmerman 1987; Butler 1990) has always been a contentious subject in different communities globally. There has not been a neat distinction and a clear line of separation as to when nurture and nature disentangle and entangle. Thus, the nature/nurture debates, especially where conversations occur among ordinary people, remain important sites for contesting and understanding identities in society. These are expressed in social or political gatherings, churches, beer halls, mainstream media and social media. Social media have affected the way identities are constructed and imagined, represented and consumed globally. Their unbounded nature has made it possible for these discourses to transcend geographic and cultural boundaries. Thus, ethnic, gender, ideological, and political identities are constructed, discussed, challenged, cemented or changed in social media, as these sites are extensions and mirror human everyday lives. Social media have been spaces where people clandestinely or openly perform or address their identities and even plan offline events and engagements. These spaces have also changed and reinforced some of the ideologies associated with gender that have been spread by traditional media.

With this background, gender constructions, performances, and debates, especially where issues around sexuality, gendered roles in society have been some of the most contentious on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik-Tok. These platforms have been used to reflect and magnify some sections of society’s imagination of gender and its performances, sexuality and different roles expected of members of society. In some cases, these platforms have been used to perform sexuality and gender for different purposes and with different outcomes. Closeted homosexuals who have struggled to openly tell their families of their sexuality have used social media platforms ‘to come out’. The reactions from online communities are usually varied. Debates on the role of women in political and corporate leadership have also been ventilated. While some members of society concede equal citizenship and capabilities to women as leaders, some argue otherwise. Both female and male bodies have been used to sell products and debates around whether the commodification and commercialization of these bodies empowers or disempowers not only the characters who perform but their different genders as well abound. Celebrity culture in Africa and indeed globally has shown an interaction between celebrities and their followers in ways that were unimaginable decades ago. Where celebrities have been seen as toxic, cancel culture has been invoked and some social media debates have suggested that only male offending celebrities are cancelled. This call for chapters, therefore, seeks to solicit chapters from the African context on the following topics and any other related issues:

  • The performance of gender on social media
  • Sexual objectification online
  • Power and control of ones body and sexuality in online performances
  • Case studies of gender based violence online
  • Exposing vs normalizing gender roles in social mkedia debates
  • Commercialization/Commodification of gender in social media
  • Challenging and defending partriarchy and the male savior
  • Feminism debates
  • Performing gender online
  • The concept of voice in social media vs in society: Have women, and non-heterosexual people gained their voices on social media.
  • The use of gender as an ideology to silence, include and exclude in social media.
  • How are male, female and other bodies consumed online
  • Gender and self-representation in social media.
  • How corporates and governments engage with citizens on social media based on gendered identities.
  • Women as collateral damage in political conflicts:exposing womens nudes to score political points
  • The careless talk and treatment of women`s bodies and characters in social debates
  • The roles of social media in inequality debates in society
  • Debates and engagement with gendewr during electoral periods
  • Engagements with gender in celebrity cultures
  • Online gendered performances during Covid-19 and what it tells us about positionalities of men and women in some contexts
  • Gender, humor and social media.

Please email chapter proposals of up to 500 words in length, as well as brief author biographical information, to the volume editors at Prof Shepherd Mpofu (shepherd.mpofu /at/ and Dr Kealeboga Aiseng (k.aiseng/at/ These should be sent through by the 15th September 2022. Decisions on proposals will be made and communicated to authors early October 2022. Lexington Books will publish this volume.