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Dr Abel F Ugba

Senior Lecturer and co-leader, MA in Media, Communication and Global Development

Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB), Arts and Digital Industries (ADI)

I'm a journalist and a sociologist. My research, teaching and academic writing focus on media, journalism, religion, international development and Europe’s new African diasporas.

  • EB 2.24, Docklands Campus
    School of Arts and Digital Industries (ADI)
    University of East London
    Docklands Campus
    E16 2RD
  • +442082237368

    Dr Abel Ugba’s journalism career began in the 1980s when he worked as a reporter for a regional newspaper in Midwestern Nigeria. Since then he has worked for or contributed articles to media companies in Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom. He was employed as an online journalist with, website of the Irish Times. He was a co-publisher and the pioneering editor of Metro Eireann (, Ireland’s most popular multicultural newspaper. Dr Ugba’s research, teaching and academic writing have focused on media, religion, international development and Europe’s new African diasporas. Among his many publications is a monograph titled, Shades of Belonging: Pentecostal African Immigrants in Twenty-first Century Ireland (Africa World Press, 2009). Dr Ugba is an experienced researcher who has participated in multinational migration-related European projects and produced country reports for Ireland and United Kingdom. He is also an experienced PhD supervisor. Dr Ugba is a member of Communication for Development (C4D) Network, the Communication Initiative Network and the Association for Journalism Education (UK).
    ·      External Examiner, PhD by professional practice, the University Bedfordshire, 2015 - 2019
    ·      External Examiner for undergraduate and post-graduate journalism modules, School of Film and Journalism, the University of the West of England, Bristol, October 2011 to September 2015
    ·      External Examiner, PhD oral examination. College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh.  Thesis Title: Inter-Religious Encounter in a West African city: A study of multiple religious belonging and identity among the Yoruba of Ogbomosho, Nigeria.  30 January 2015.
    ·      External Examiner, PhD oral examination. College of Social Sciences and Law, University College Dublin. Thesis Title: Africans in Ireland and the New Political Activism. 20 November 2013.
    ·      External Examiner, PhD oral examination. College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh. Thesis Title: Pentecostal-Charismatic Christianity in Video films: An Exploration of the Reception and Appropriation Among the Adherents in Ghana and the UK. 16 October 2013.
    ·      External Examiner, PhD oral examination. College of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh. Thesis Title: Negotiating Culture: Christianity and the Ogo Society in Amasiri, Southeastern Nigeria. May 2011.


    My research and publishing activities cover media, journalism, migration and the sociology of religion. I have undertaken an extensive and critical research of Ireland’s new African communities, focussing on the intersections between identity and religion/media activism. My research examines the interfaces between specific Pentecostal beliefs and the interpretation of self, ‘others’ and social reality. It triangulates theories of religion and of immigrant integration and it assesses the implications of religiously-motivated self-understanding for the social location of African Pentecostals and their greater involvement in the larger Irish society. This pioneering research and my creative media practice (I started publishing Metro Eireann, Ireland’s most popular multicultural newspaper, in 2000) have been critically received by academics, policy makers and the popular media.
    My multidisciplinary research has resulted in publications in respectable peer-reviewed journals. However, the most significant single output is the monograph titled Shades of belonging: African Pentecostals in twenty-first century Ireland, which I published in 2009. This highly-acclaimed seminal publication, which has been frequently cited by writers and researchers of immigration and immigrant communities, has been reviewed in at least three reputable academic journals, and also in newspapers and websites.
    A strong indication of international recognition of the impact and importance of my research came in 2004 when I was invited to join an international research team on ‘Building Europe with New Citizens’ as a country expert for Ireland. The EU-funded project, which examined the civic activism of immigrants in 25 EU countries, resulted in several conferences and the publication of a special report by the European Commission. The chapter on Ireland was authored by me. I was also invited as a country expert on another EU-funded transnational project on ‘Diasporic Minorities and their Media in the EU’ ( led by the London School of Economics. I also contributed the chapter on Ireland in the official report.


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    Production and consumption of Diaspora Media
    Media and Transnationalism
    Media and Religion
    Media and Identity
    ICTs, Web Publishing and Citizen Journalism
    Media and the Public Sphere
    Internationalisation of African Media



    Introduction to Journalism
    Online Journalism: Production and Critique
    Journalism Portfolio
    Multimedia Newsroom Practices
    Thesis Supervision
    Research Methods

    Most recently my research has focussed on three main themes: 1) Identity and media consumption/choices 2) Activism among UK’s exiled journalists; and 3) Media and migration. With material support from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), I have conducted focus groups and semi-structured interviews with African immigrants in several cities in Ireland focussing on the relationship between media choices/use and identity. My research, which also employed survey as an additional investigative technique, was part of a bigger project on ‘Broadcasting in the New Ireland: Mapping and Envisioning Cultural Diversity’ led by the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. The official report was submitted to BCI in 2010 and it included data from my empirical investigation (
    My research of activism among exiled journalists in UK has been supported by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UEL - the predecessor of my present School. In 2010 the School awarded a seed grant of £2,175 towards this project. I have concluded data gathering and I am now in the process of analysis and writing.

    On media and migration, I participated in 2010 in a transnational project on ‘Irregular Migration in Times of Global Economic Crisis – perceptions and realities in Europe, Africa, Latin-America and Asia’. Funded by Germany-based Volkswagen Foundation, the project was led by the Hamburg Institute of International Economics and it investigated popular and official discourses of irregular migration
    in Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Finland and three non-European countries (China, Nigeria and Ecuador). The aim of our consortium was to apply for a larger international research project under the “Europe and Global Challenges” Programme, jointly sponsored by three Foundations - the Compagnia di San Paolo (Italy), the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Sweden) and the Volkswagenstiftung (Germany). On this project I worked with researchers and academics from institutions in China, Finland, Austria, United Kingdom, Spain, Nigeria, Germany and Ecuador. The outcome includes a project meeting/conference in Hamburg and a series of Working Papers. My paper, published in 2010, is titled: Irregular migration in the United Kingdom since the turn of the millennium – development, economic background and discourses (
    My external engagements have included a consultancy project with the Africa Centre in Dublin, membership of management boards, membership of editorial boards and serving as a peer reviewer for highly-regarded academic journals.

    In 2008 I served as an evaluator of a European Refugee Fund project of the Africa Centre ( Since 2006 I have served as editorial board member (and a reviewer) for Translocations, an open-access E-journal that focuses on migration and social change ( I have also served as a reviewer for Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, which ‘publishes the results of first-class research on all forms of migration and its consequences’ ( I have also reviewed articles for Religion, another reputable journal published by Francis and Taylor Group. The journal is described as ‘an internationally recognized peer-reviewed journal, publishing original scholarly research in the comparative and interdisciplinary study of religion’ ( I am a member of the Centre for Research on Migration and Belonging (CRMB) based in the School of Law and Social Sciences I was a member of the organising committee of the very successful ‘Religion and Racism’ conference held by the Centre in UEL in the Spring of 2010. I am an executive member of the African Association for the Study of Religion (, and a member of the International Association for the History of Religions ( I am also a member of the Association for Journalism Education (AJE) in the UK. I have also served as a board member and chairperson of the Exiled Journalists’ Network in the United Kingdom.