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Susan Benesch

iHub Research By Angela Okune / March 29, 2014

Report: Countering Dangerous Speech during Kenyan elections

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Professor Susan Benesch, a Faculty Associate of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and research advisor on the Umati project has released a report describing a set of violence prevention methods carried out in Kenya during the national elections of 2013, to counter inflammatory speech and limit its power to inflame audiences, while protecting freedom of expression.

It is impossible to measure accurately what role each effort played in preventing wide scale violence in Kenya in 2013, since a wide variety of interrelated factors were at play. But it seems undeniable that in its totality, the anti-violence/pro-peace speech in Kenya – coming from broadcasters, clergy, soccer stars, soldiers, and other diverse sources – played a significant role in maintaining public calm in 2013. Benesch’s report, available here, describes many of those efforts, including Sisi Ni Amani, special episodes of Vioja Mahakamani, iHub’s Umati project and NipeUkweli campaign, as well as a critique of ‘peace propaganda.’ The report highlights a need to conduct further experiments in Kenya and elsewhere, to further develop and improve methods for the prevention of violence.

The full report is available here: http://www.ihub.co.ke/ihubresearch/jb_BeneschCFPReportPeacebuildingInKenyapdf2014-3-25-07-08-41.pdf.

For further information on The Dangerous Speech Project, see http://voicesthatpoison.org/. Susan also recently gave a talk around data-driven methods to diminish hatred online.

Author : Angela Okune

Angela is Research Lead at iHub. She is keen on growing knowledge on the uptake and utility of ICTs in East Africa. She is also co-lead of Waza Experience, an iHub community initiative aimed at prompting under-privileged children to explore innovation and entrepreneurship concepts grounded in real-world experience.


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