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Dr Francesca Sobande

Dr Francesca Sobande


School of Journalism, Media and Culture

Available for postgraduate supervision


Francesca is a lecturer in Digital Media Studies at JOMEC, with research interests and expertise in issues related to race, gender, structural inequalities, media, and the marketplace. She is Course Director of the BA Media, Journalism and Culture programme. Francesca’s work particularly focuses on digital culture, Black identity and diaspora, feminism, celebrity, the creative and cultural industries, and popular culture. She is an affiliate of the Data Justice Lab and is Communication Co-Chair (with Dr Naya Jones) of the Race in the Marketplace Research Network.

Previously, Francesca was a lecturer in Marketing and Advertising (Edge Hill University), a tutor in Marketing and Management (University of Dundee), and worked in communications in higher education, the arts, and not-for-profit sector.

Francesca has published work on YouTube, digital blackness and Black women's online media experiences (European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Consumption Markets & Culture), "woke-washing" and brands' (mis)use of social justice activism (European Journal of Marketing), celebrity and authenticity (Celebrity Studies), digital remix culture and British politics (IPPR Progressive Review), Black diasporic media (Communication, Culture & Critique), as well as the role of gender archetypes in marketing the assisted reproductive technology and fertility industry (Marketing Theory). She is author of The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain (2020, Palgrave Macmillan) and co-editor with Professor Akwugo Emejulu of To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe (2019, Pluto Press). She has commented on such topics for Al Jazeera, BBC News, ABC News, The Guardian, and Quartz, as well as at public engagement events at the Wellcome Collection, Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Foundation for Art and Creative Technology.

Francesca welcomes PhD proposals in the following areas:

  • Black identity, diaspora, and digital space
  • Celebrity, influencer culture, and social media
  • Consumer culture’s co-option of social justice movements
  • Inequality, ideology, and digital media
  • Race, gender, feminism, and popular culture
  • Youth culture, visual culture, and the internet








Francesca leads the following modules:

  • Undergraduate - Representations
  • Undergraduate - (Me)me, Myself, and I: The Power and Politics of Digital Remix Culture and Online Inequalities
  • Postgraduate - Critical Issues in Creative Labour

Francesca has co-led:

  • Postgraduate - Understanding Digital Media

  • The Digital and Media Experiences of Black Women in Britain: For over five years Francesca has been researching the digital and media experiences of Black women in Britain, continuing from her PhD thesis Digital Diaspora and (Re)mediating Black Women in Britain (2018), culminating in her book – The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain (2020, Palgrave Macmillan), and several related journal articles.
  • Black Lives in Scotland: What are the contemporary experiences of Black people in Scotland? In what ways are these impacted by how notions of nationhood and “home” have been shaken up by the past Scottish independence referendum in 2014 and Britain’s European Union Exit (Brexit) in 2020? How have the lives of Black people in Scotland been affected by longstanding structural inequalities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) global pandemic? Focusing on the history and contemporary experiences of Black people in Scotland, this project with layla-roxanne hill (independent researcher) explores what it means to be Black (t)here. Based on this work, Black Lives in Scotland (working title) will be published by Zed/Bloomsbury in 2022.
  • How Cultural Workers Negotiate Racism in the Digital Age: Francesca is principal investigator on this project. The team includes Dr Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths, University of London), Professor David Hesmondhalgh (University of Leeds), and research assistant Jason Roberts (Cardiff University), supported by the Digit Innovation Fund (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council). This research (September 2020-August 2021) combines three methods: interviews with Black, Asian, and other racialised people concerning their attitudes and practices; textual analysis of their creative output; and analysis of the interfaces and processes of key digital cultural platforms, highlighting affordances and constraints of those platforms and associated algorithms. The aim is to identify key changes in how people negotiate and challenge societal and industry racism in sectors that shape public culture. The project page is here.

  • Crossing Visionary Boundaries – A Transdisciplinary Photovoice Project of Race and Markets: In collaboration with Dr Guillaume Johnson (Paris Dauphine University) and as part of her involvement in the Race in the Marketplace (RIM) Research Network, Francesca was co-principal investigator on an Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) funded project. The project was based on a two-day "photovoice workshop" which took place prior to the RIM Forum in Paris (June 2019). It focused on photographic and creative documentation of the nuances of racism and the racial history of Paris and contemporary manifestations of it in marketplace settings and public space.
  • Gender Archetypes in Media and the Marketplace: Francesca has collaborated with Dr Laetitia Mimoun (Cass Business School) and Dr Lez Trujillo Torres (ESSEC Business School) since 2016, as part of research regarding how marketed ideas and images related to masculinity are used in the service of the assisted reproductive technology and fertility industry. Such work has been published in Marketing Theory (Sobande et al. 2019), has featured in Discover Society and has been the source of write-ups in Yahoo! News, Medical Xpress and other media outlets. More broadly, Francesca researches representations of gender identities on screen and within celebrity and digital remix culture.
  • “Woke-washing” and Brands’ Optical Allyship: Francesca does ongoing work that addresses how brands attempt to align themselves with social justice movements as part of marketing and commodification processes that are at odds with liberationist politics. In 2020 her research regarding “woke-washing” was picked up by Yahoo! News, The Independent, and MSN, and she contributed to the Canvas8 report “Deep Dive: Understanding Allyship”.


Francesca Sobande is co-supervisor of Emma-Lee Amponsah's (Ghent University) doctoral project, "RE:colonization: Afro-Belgium and the 'living' memory of the colonial past in, through and beyond contemporary media".

She is also co-supervisor of Khensani de Klerk's (University of Cambridge) Mphil in Architecture and Urban Design project, "public aGender: Investigating the relationship between public infrastructure and urban violence experienced by women of colour in Cape Town, South Africa".

Current supervision


Ina Sander

Research student

Easa Alqahtani

Research student

Zhihui Cheng

Research student