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Francesca Sobande

Dr Francesca Sobande

Senior Lecturer in Digital Media Studies

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Francesca is a senior lecturer in Digital Media Studies at JOMEC, with research interests and expertise in the power and politics of media and the marketplace. Her research particularly focuses on digital remix culture, Black diaspora and archives, feminism, creative work, popular culture, and devolved nations.

She is Course Director of the MA Digital Media and Society programme, and in 2020 developed a new undergraduate module on "(Me)me, Myself, and I: The Power and Politics of Digital Remix Culture and Online Inequalities". Francesca is Communication Co-Chair (with Dr Naya Jones) of the Race in the Marketplace Research Network. Previously, she 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), CGI influencer culture (Television & New Media), digital remix culture (IPPR Progressive Review), Black diasporic media (Communication, Culture & Critique), commodified notions of connection, care and community in brand responses to COVID-19 (European Journal of Cultural Studies), social emotions and the legitimation of the fertility technology market (Journal of Consumer Research), gender archetypes in fertility industry marketing (Marketing Theory), and the marketisation of intersectionality (Marketing Theory).

She is the 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). Francesca is also co-author with layla-roxanne hill of Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland (forthcoming 2022, Zed/Bloomsbury). Her forthcoming books include Consuming Crisis: Commodifying Care and COVID-19 (forthcoming 2022, SAGE), and a book on the relationship between digital culture, social justice, and marketing/branding practices (under contract with University of California Press). She has commented on such topics for Al Jazeera, BBC News, ABC News, CNN, New Scientist, ITV, The Guardian, Quartz, The Washington Post, and Times Radio, as well as at public engagement events at the Wellcome Collection, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), and Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT).

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
  • Devolution and digital culture
  • Inequality, ideology, and digital media
  • Meme culture, subcultures, and politics
  • Race, gender, feminism, and popular culture
  • Youth culture, visual culture, and the internet










Book sections



  • Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland: What does it mean to be Black in Scotland today? How are notions of nationhood, Scottishness, and Britishness implicated in this? Why is it important to acknowledge, archive, and understand Black Scottish history? Reflecting on the past to make sense of the 21st century, Black Oot Here: Black Lives in Scotland explores the history and contemporary lives of Black people in Scotland. Based on intergenerational interviews, survey responses, photography, and archived material, this book offers a unique snapshot of Black Scottish history and present-day realities. Focusing on experiences of education, work, activism, media, public life, and politics, Black Oot Here presents a detailed account of Black lives in Scotland and considers the future that may lie ahead.
  • Consuming Crisis: Commodifying Care and COVID-19: Consuming Crisis: Commodifying Care and COVID-19 (SAGE forthcoming 2022) is a crucial account of how consumer culture capitalised on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Sobande explores how brands claim to care while they encourage people to 'keep calm and consume'. This critical analysis of the power and politics of marketing examines an eclectic mix of campaigns, content, and experiences. Such work outlines the societal significance of fast-fashion adverts, banana bread's pandemic 'moment', university social media strategies, and how digital technology mediates memories and work. Based on the belief that brands cannot be activists, Sobande creatively considers how brand's construct care, camaraderie, culture, and so-called 'normal' life during times of crisis. 
  • How Cultural Workers Negotiate Racism in the Digital Age: Francesca was principal investigator on this project. The team included 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) combined 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 was to identify key changes in how people address 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 impact of racism and the racial history of Paris and contemporary manifestations of it in marketplace settings and public space. Output from this project includes an article on "Enacting anti-racist visualities through photo-dialogues on race in Paris".
  • 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) and Journal of Consumer Research (Mimoun et al. 2021), has featured in Discover Society, and has been the source of write-ups in Yahoo! News, Medical Xpress, Metro, and other media outlets. More broadly, Francesca researches representations of gender identities on screen and within celebrity and digital remix culture.
  • “Woke-washing” and Alleged "Brand Activism": Since 2015 Francesca has been researching 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” (European Journal of Marketing, 2019) was picked up by Yahoo! News, The Independent, Quartz, and MSN. Francesca contributed to the Canvas8 report “Deep Dive: Understanding Allyship” and was interviewed about her work on inequalities and digital space for the Canvas8 “thought leader” series. She is writing a book on the relationship between digital remix culture, social justice, activism, and marketing/consumer culture (University of California Press).


Leads the following modules (2020/21):

  • Undergraduate - (Me)me, Myself, and I: The Power and Politics of Digital Remix Culture and Online Inequalities
  • Undergraduate - Representations

Previously led (2019/20):

  • Postgraduate - Critical Issues in Creative Labour

Previously co-led with Dr Arne Hintz (2019/20):

  • Postgraduate - Understanding Digital Media

Contributes to a range of other modules as a guest lecturer, including the following in 2020/21:

  • Undergraduate - Branding and Identity
  • Undergraduate - Employability: Knowledge, Skills & Experience
  • Undergraduate - Media and Gender
  • Postgraduate - Datafied Society
  • Postgraduate - Putting Research into Practice 2


Prior to joining Cardiff University in 2019, Francesca taught critical marketing and advertising modules such as Marketing: A Critical Introduction (MA), E-Commerce and M-Commerce (UG), and Global Marketing Management (UG) at Edge Hill University. While completing her PhD at the University of Dundee (2015-2018), Francesca was a tutor on modules such as Management Concepts in Context (UG), International Business Environments (UG), and The Business of Human Rights (UG).

During her doctoral research on Digital Diaspora and (Re)mediating Black Women in Britain, Francesca received two conference paper awards and a scholarship to participate in the inaugural Race in the Marketplace Forum (American University). As a Foundation Scotland Fran Trust grant recipient in 2017, Francesca presented international research on “Black Diasporic Identity (Re)Mediation”. Her work continues to foreground matters concerning Black lives, digital blackness, gender, feminism, the arts, popular culture, and digital remix culture.

Before working as a university lecturer Francesca worked in a range of communications roles in higher education, the arts, and not-for-profit sector. Francesca's experience of digital pedagogy includes co-leading a course with Daniel Lynds (Davidson College) on "Critical Visual Dialogues" at the Digital Pedagogy Lab in 2020, learning about different digital pedagogical approaches when attending the Digital Pedagogy Lab as a Fellow in 2019, and developing the Cardiff University undergraduate module "(Me)me, Myself, and I: The Power and Politics of Digital Remix Culture and Online Inequalities".

News articles:

Interviews with Francesca are quoted in the following articles:
Francesca's research is also highlighted in these articles, video segments, and radio and podcast recordings:
Francesca's blog post and editorial writing includes the following:

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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 a co-supervisor of Kelly Parker's (Falmouth University) doctoral project, "Blackout: A Phenomenological Study of Stereotypes and Misrepresentation in Contemporary UK Linear TV Advertising upon Black UK Audiences 

Previously, Francesca was 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".

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