Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) PhD student Ms Nompumelelo Gumede, recently participated in the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) conference.
This year’s conference theme was Rethinking borders and boundaries: Beyond the global/local dichotomy in communication studies and it was hosted virtually by the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.
Gumede’s paper titled Global pandemic – local interpretations: A culture-centred community engagement exploration of COVID-19 communication in Ethekwini Municipality during and post South African lockdown, was accepted as part of the Participatory Communication Research (PCR) Working Group, as an online conference paper. She was also invited to share her work in a live conference session with a panel consisting of academics from China, United Arab Emirates, Australia, India and Nigeria, amongst others.
Gumede’s presentation was based on findings from her PhD study, showcasing the results of a pilot of a bigger study that explores a culture-centred community engagement process to understand positive, existential, and negative perceptions, enablers and nurturers that influence decision-making around COVID-19 prevention with communities in three geo-spatial locations (rural, township and informal settlement) in eThekwini Municipality.
Set against the backdrop of top-down COVID-19 communication approaches in South Africa, she explored the importance of integrating local knowledge and contexts in health communication during a health crisis such as COVID-19. ‘The unique methodological approach of this study was the use of WhatsApp community dialogues to contribute to the growing body of knowledge around “physically-distanced” virtual research methodologies, especially in low-income settings,’ she said.
Her presentation was well-received and received positive feedback from the panellists.