Nicole Stremlau

Head of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP) and Associate Professor


Nicole Stremlau is Head of the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, and Research Professor in the School of Communications at the University of Johannesburg.

Stremlau’s research bridges socio-legal studies, communications/digital technologies, and international development/African Studies. She is the author or editor of several books including Media, Conflict, and the State in Africa (CUP 2018) and Speech and Society in Turbulent Times (CUP 2017). She has co-authored UNESCO’s flagship publication, World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development (2018). Her peer reviewed articles have appeared in leading journals across these fields including African Affairs, the International Journal of Communications, and the International Journal of Human Rights. She has long-term field research experience in the Horn of Africa (particularly Ethiopia and Somaliland) and South Africa.

She is currently leading several large international research projects including the European Research Council (ERC) ConflictNet project on the Politics and Practice of Social Media in Conflict with a focus on Africa. She is also the Oxford lead of the Horizon Europe ReMeD (Resilient Media for Democracy in the Digital Age) project and she was recently awarded a European Media and Information Fund project to launch a new programme -InfoLead- Information and Media Literacy for Judges and Policymakers, in partnership with the University of Florence and the University of Helsinki. Stremlau also serves as a Co-Investigator at the ESRC funded Centre for Public Authority and International Development at the London School of Economics’ Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa.

While Stremlau has written extensively about media, governance (particularly beyond state authorities) and conflict, her recent work has focused on issues around information controls (including online hate speech/mis/disinformation, the inequalities of online content moderation, and internet shutdowns); the politics of AI policymaking in Africa, including the emerging fields of AI for social good and anticipatory action; and innovation, technology beyond the state, including, for example, the role of technology in transnational dispute resolution among migrant and marginalized diaspora communities in Africa. 

Stremlau has regularly engaged in policy-relevant research with a range of organizations such as the African Union Mission and the United Nations in Somalia; she has received significant funding from the UK FCO for research on online hate speech in Ethiopia and research around media and elections; as well as the US Holocaust Museum, the Carnegie Corporation and the Open Society Foundation.

Stremlau currently directs the Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute. This annual programme has been running for more than two decades and brings together a dynamic group of participants from government, academia, the tech sector, and civil society for discussions around cutting-edge technology and policy issues.

She regularly contributes to international media and public debates including the The New Humanitarian, Times Higher Education, and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She was previously a blogger for the Huffington Post and worked for the Ethiopian Reporter newspaper in Addis Ababa.

Stremlau holds degrees from Wesleyan University (BA with honours, College of Social Studies), the School of Oriental and African Studies (MA, International Politics) and the London School of Economics (PhD, Department of International Development).