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Biography

Peter Chonka completed his PhD at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies in 2017. His doctoral research focused on transnational Somali-language media networks and their impact on the cultural politics of state reconstruction in the Horn of Africa. His recent publications have explored the production, dissemination and use of digital texts in this media environment, and online/offline contestation between the state and militant opposition groups. As such, he’s interested in how the new media environment affects political reconstruction, civil society activism, and conflict in so-called ‘fragile’ states. He has also recently been affiliated with an ESRC/DFID-funded ‘Security on the Move’ research project, using innovative visual methods to explore displaced people’s everyday perceptions of mobility, security and urbanisation in Somali cities.

He has previously taught in the fields of African Politics and Development Studies at SOAS and Birkbeck (University of London). Prior to his doctoral research he worked as a Somali-interpreter for the International Committee of the Red Cross, primarily in places of detention across Somalia.

Research Interests & PhD Supervision

  • Digital media and political communication
  • Conflict and state-building
  • African media/digital cultures
  • Migration and mobility
  • Development/humanitarian communications

For more details, please see his full research profile.

Teaching

Peter has been convening the MA Mobility, Culture and Digital Media module that explores intersections between migration, diaspora communities, and communication technologies. He also designed, and now convenes, the Development and Humanitarianism in a Digital Age BA module.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Peter has testified as an expert witness for immigration cases related to Somalia, and advises UK refugee advocacy groups on issues related to his research. He has taught on and co-directed the Rift Valley Institute’s annual Horn of Africa course, held in the region and designed for civil society, humanitarian, diplomatic, and security sector professionals. He regularly presents his research to public and governmental audiences in the Horn of Africa and the UK, and he is a fellow of Somali Public Agenda, a local non-profit institute that works to advance the understanding and improvement of governance and public services in Somalia. He also contributes specialist commentary on Horn of Africa affairs for media outlets such as Vice news and CCTV. For more details and access to his publications see his personal website.