My PhD Research Journey by Dr Jennifer Ere-Mendie

Media Discourse Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester

My PhD research journey began in October 2016 with an ambiguous topic and vague contributions to knowledge. Firstly, I was discussing Privacy, Surveillance and Social Justice in a very broad scope with the literatures of Michel Foucault, David Brin and so on. During my first formal review the panel insisted my literature was too broad, and I needed to narrow down my ideas and research question, to achieve original contributions to knowledge. In my second year, after conducting extensive literature reviews, I was able to derive a succinct topic for my research – “Digital Surveillance and Social Justice in Nigeria: A study of New Media Regulations”.

I travelled to Nigeria to conduct face-to-face interviews with 10 human rights activists from the 6 geopolitical zones in Nigeria. This aided in providing rich content for the analysis of my research which was conducted using Faircloughian Critical Discourse Analysis. After transcribing and coding the texts from my interview sessions which took 18 months to complete, the results were presented during my second annual review.

My third and fourth years spiralled into the completion of chapters, contributing originally to each chapter, writing up of the entire thesis, and innovating the thesis statement: “We argue that without clearly defined data protection law in Nigeria, the use of social media as a platform through which to critique the state, becomes the means for gathering intelligence and enacting punitive justice for dissenting social actors”. This process took another 18 months to complete. However, as part of my research journey, I attended and presented in local and international conferences, ranging from the Data Justice Conference at Cardiff University, to Media Discourse Centre conferences at De Montfort University, to African Women in Media Conferences which took place online due to the Covid 19 pandemic and cancellation of conferences in physical spaces at the time.

I organised a Film Festival at De Montfort University in my third year during the 2019 Black History Month. This event garnered Black film makers from different cities in the United Kingdom, and 5 minutes short film genres on sustainability, social justice and democracy were presented at the festival with music and traditional dishes for refreshments. At the expiration of my research in 2020 I turned my thesis into a 10 minutes short film: A call for clearly defined data protection law in Nigeria, which can be found on You Tube


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