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 Humanities at the University of Johannesburg. She is currently leading a large ERC project on the Politics and Practice of Social Media in Conflict. Her research focuses on media and governance, particularly in areas of conflict and insecurity. Her recent projects examine the role of new media in political participation and governance; media law and regulation in the absence of government or in weak states; the role of media in conflict, peacebuilding and the consolidation of political power; and how governments attempt to engage citizens and communicate law-making processes, particularly constitution-making. She has recently led Oxford's contribution to a large EU project on media and democratization conflicts (MeCODEM). Stremlau's doctoral work explored the role of media during the guerrilla insurgencies in Uganda and Ethiopia, and how the successive governments used the media to consolidate political power in the aftermath of violence.

While Stremlau continues to research and write on Ethiopia, her more recent research has been on media and conflict in Somalia and Somaliland, which has received funding from the United Nations, among others. 

As Head of PCMLP, Stremlau has developed and managed international programmes on media law and policy, including the Price Media Law Moot Court Programme. She has established links between PCMLP with universities, law firms and media companies in India, China, Eastern Africa and the Middle East. Stremlau leads the annual Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute, and she has served as a researcher and author for the Horn of Africa for the annual Freedom House Press Freedom Rankings.

While at PCMLP she has been awarded several grants for advancing her research as well as the agenda of the programme, including support from the Open Society Foundations, the United Nations, and the European Union.  She was recently a co-investigator on the project “Reframing Local Knowledge: ICTs, Statebuilding and Peacebuilding in Eastern Africa” funded by the Carnegie Corporation and recently completed an ESRC-funded project on China’s role in shaping the information systems in Africa.

Prior to coming to PCMLP, Stremlau was director of the Africa programme at the Stanhope Centre for Communications Policy Research where she initiated a led the East African Journalists Fellowship Programme, as well as research projects on media and election violence and public opinion research in Darfur. She has been a regular contributor to Janes Intelligence Review and has consulted for the World Bank in Addis Ababa as well as for Human Rights Watch. Stremlau lived in Ethiopia for several years where she conducted research and spent a year as a features writer at the Ethiopian Reporter.

Her research was profiled by the National Endowment for Democracy highlighting 10 of the most significant academics that have contributed to empirical understandings of the relationship between media and governance. (NED, 2012.   Is there a Link Between Media and Good Governance? What the Academics Say)


BA with honors, College of Social Studies, Wesleyan University, Middletown CT.
MA, International Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, UK.
PhD, Department of International Development, London School of Economics (LSE), London, UK.