The Project

The aim of the International Research Network (IRN) SOUTH-STREAM is to lead a collective and critical reflection of Global South cultural platforms and digital players

While the literature on digital platforms is largely constructed from the perspective of North American and European actors, the IRN proposes making a shift to focus on Global South platforms, which remain understudied and underestimated, to bring further understanding of global dynamics overall.

Three main “axes” of research will guide this study:

• The trajectory of cultural platforms created by Global South actors, from big tech companies to small entrepreneurs;

• The transformation of local industries and creative work, especially through the generalization of data and algorithms and reorganization of largely informal systems;

• The transnational expansion of platforms developed in Southern countries to other regions, including localization strategies and public policy issues.

The IRN places the strengthening of scientific cooperation with partners from the Global South at the heart of its dynamics. It brings together nine Partner Institutions – three from Europe (CNRS and LabEx ICCA in France, Leeds University in the UK), three from Africa and the Middle East (Pan-Atlantic University in Nigeria, Stellenbosch University in South Africa, University of Galatasaray in Turkey), two from Latin America (Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez in Chile, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil) and one in Asia (Tata Institute for Social Sciences in India). 

The Network comprises nine head coordinators with their teams and six associated researchers, and brings together geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, as well as researchers from information and communication sciences. Our approach combines political economy, ethnographic surveys and qualitative analyses of platforms’ content.

The Network emerged through a series of scientific projects conducted over the past few years, including the publication of a Special Issue “Industries culturelles dans les Suds à l’heure du numérique“ in Les Cahiers d’Outre-Mer (2018) and the organization of a two-day international workshop “Digital Platforms in the Global South: Shaping a critical approach” (2021) at Paris II University and online. Following this workshop, the book “Digital Platforms and the Global South” edited by Philippe Bouquillion, Christine Ithurbide and Tristan Mattelart is under press with contributions from around ten members of the Network (Routledge, Internationalizing Media Studies).