African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellowships

Through fellowship competitions, regional workshops, and peer networking, the African Humanities Program provides support to the humanities in five African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The centerpiece of the program is the distribution of fellowships to African scholars in these countries for work on dissertations, research projects, and scholarly manuscripts. Dissertation awards are listed below; also see postdoctoral awards. The program is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 


John Aghimheile Apeabu
John Aghimheile Apeabu  |  Abstract
Nigerian Charismatic-Pentecostal movements have become emblematic of the influence of Christian evangelistic crusades on mainstream society. Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity is characteristically more determined to the spread of Christianity than were previous churches. It appears as if the implementation of Islamic Penal code in 1999 was a strategy of the vanguard of Islamic fundamentalists to check the influence of the Charismatic-Pentecostal churches. This study addresses the impact of Shariah on Charismatic and Pentecostal churches in Northwestern Nigeria. It presents the historical background of the situation, the conceptual framework of the study, and the emergency of religious fundementalism that culminated in the implementation of Shariah law in the seven states of Northwestern Nigeria. The study further documents the adjustments that Charismatic-Pentecostal churches have made to cope with the demands of Shariah law.

Doctoral Candidate, University of Jos  -  The Impact of Implementation of Sharia Law on Charismatic-Pentecostal Churches in Northwestern Nigeria, 1999 to 2007

Dolapo Zacchaeus Olupayimo
Dolapo Zacchaeus Olupayimo  |  Abstract
This project examines internal boundary questions in what used to be the Western Region during the period 1946 and 1996. It identifies judicial tradition and limitation in boundary adjudication in light of the peculiarity of methods used during the pre-colonial, colonial, and postcolonial periods, as well as the general significance of boudaries. The study adopts qualitative methods, collecting and analyzing data for thematic explanations. In particular, content analysis of primary and secondary data is employed to locate the study within the context of historical developments in the country. The study reveals the factors determining judges’ disposition in boundary adjudication (including personal idiosyncrasies, national interest, national security, and political axioms).

Doctoral Candidate, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  History of Judicial Intervention in Boundary Disputes in the Southwestern Part of Nigeria, 1946 to 1996

Clement Olumuyiwa Bakinde
Clement Olumuyiwa Bakinde  |  Abstract
There has been no holistic archeological research in the Okun speaking area of Kogi State in Nigeria, located within latitudes 7030’ to 8033’N and longitude 5015’ to 6030’E. Earlier researchers have only concentrated on isolated sites without attempting to write a unified culture history of the Okun people. This study provides much needed documentation, using a multidisciplinary approach. Archaeological, archival, ethnographic, linguistic, and oral traditional evidence are examined to produce a holistic view of the early history and the peopling of the area. The study presents processes of cultural evolution of the Okun people and the sequence of human occupation of the area, documenting aspects of the peopling of the confluence Nigerian area. Understanding the confluence area is relevant to a better understanding of state formation and urbanization of the Nigerian region.

Doctoral Candidate, Archaeology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka  -  An Archaeological Investigation of the Okun Speaking Area of Kogi State, Nigeria

Adeniyi Oluwagbemiga Osunbade
Adeniyi Oluwagbemiga Osunbade  |  Abstract
Adichie’s works have enjoyed scholarly attention both from literary and linguistic perspectives, with greater attention from the former. Within linguistics, her works have been studied from a broad stylistic perspective. This study, however, investigates conversations in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s "Purple Hibiscus" and "Half of a Yellow Sun," using insights from relevance theory and Gricean pragmatics. No other context-driven study of the texts has been attempted in the literature. The study explores explicatures and implicatures in characters’ conversations in the two novels, drawing examples from the transactions in each, totaling 460 (164 in "Hibiscus," and 296 in "Sun"). The selection of these two novels was informed by the dearth of attention they have received in linguistic scholarship, and out of consideration for their reflection of the Nigerian historical, sociocultural, economic, and political experience. The conversations in the novels are the unit of analysis because they are close to the everyday language behavior of the people, and are a significant part of the author's message.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Ibadan  -  Explicatures and Implicatures of Conversations in Adichie’s "Purple Hibiscus" and "Half of a Yellow Sun"

Harrie Uvietobor Bazunu
Harrie Uvietobor Bazunu  |  Abstract
Artworks using Niger Delta theme(s) are visually and symbolically expressive of the prevailing conditions in this region of Nigeria, south of the Sahara. Berns holds that Delta arts are astonishing in their aesthetic and symbolic assertiveness. This symbolic assertiveness points semiotically towards a direction (or many directions). In light of the contemporainety of artworks on the Niger Delta, in what directions do these pieces, as signs and symbols, point? What do they mean? Within the context of their creation, how do these signifiers relate to their signifieds? Adopting an object-centered method of art historical study, this work classifies and analyzes selected works of visual art based on their text-context relationship, drawing attention to their semiotic elements to foreground the directions to which the visuals point and the meanings thereof.

Doctoral Candidate, Fine & Applied Arts, Delta State University, Abraka  -  Semiotic Elements in Selected Artworks on the Niger Delta

Olusoji Samuel Oyeranmi
Olusoji Samuel Oyeranmi  |  Abstract
It is axiomatic that adequate urban environmental management is essential for sustainable development in any country. As a corollary, urban centers have become the most conspicuous environments in which economic capabilities are expanded or impeded and social qualities of life are fulfilled or frustrated. However, urbanization could be as dangerous as it is important for the development of most African cities. This is because urban centers’ crucial role has not been sufficiently realized. The result is the evolution of what Blackwell (2000) called the “parasitic city.” Rather than providing the basis for sustained economic growth, cities have become serious impediments to development in Africa. In spite of the above identified crises, historical research on implications of urban management and environment for development has been relatively insignificant in Africa. Nigerian historians have documented the pre-colonial era, colonialism and popular responses, intra- and intergroup relations, and political, economic, and social history. However, there has been little or no research on the environmental history of the country. This research establishes environmental history as a veritable field of study in Nigeria. Ibadan, the largest (and one of the filthiest) cities in sub-Saharan Africa, is the primary focus of the study.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Ibadan  -  Environmental Management of the Development of Ibadan, 1945 to 2009

Alexandra Esimaje
Alexandra Esimaje  |  Abstract
This study investigates lexical behavior in religious sermons to uncover peculiarities of sermon-words and their combinatorial tendencies in meaning making. It is an empirical analysis of naturally occurring language as opposed to artificial, intuitive language. As such, the study entails the construction and use of a corpus of sermons as data, which will be analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Sermons belong to a macro-genre of religious language which, to date, has received scant research attention. There are good reasons, however, for linguistic investigation of language in religious contexts. Such investigation provides a realistic framework for discussing religion, which may suggest principles for constructive thinking. Thus, beyond providing linguistic insights, the detailed knowledge of the character of local religious language in relation to secular speaking styles may also aid in understanding the religious conflicts that characterize the Nigerian polity.

Doctoral Candidate, Arts & Education, University of Maiduguri  -  A Corpus-Based Lexical Study of Religious Sermons in Nigeria

Benon Tugume
Benon Tugume  |  Abstract
This study is a comparative analysis of human rights issues in the novels of Ngugi wa Thiongo, Alex La Guma, and Chinua Achebe. These African writers of the same generation are considered major figures in the foundation of written African Literature. The study analyzes Ngugi’s "Weep Not Child," "A Grain of Wheat," and "Petals of Blood"; La Guma’s "A Walk in the Night," "The Stone Country," and "In the Fog of the Season’s End"; and Achebe’s "Things Fall Apart," "No Longer At Ease," and "A Man of the People." Previous studies of these novels have not analysed the sociocultural and class conflict they depict within a human-rights framework. This study applies qualitative methods, using postcolonial theory to identify, compare, and analyze human rights violations in the novels.

Doctoral Candidate, Literature, Makerere University  -  A Comparative Study of Human Rights Issues in Ngugi's, La Guma's, and Achebe's Novels

Wambi Cornelius Gulere
Wambi Cornelius Gulere  |  Abstract
Riddle performance is more than just verbal art in the form of questions and answers; it is the intellectual discourse of everyday life. Unlike previous studies that have taken a narrow view of the riddle and by that considered it out of context, this study treats the riddle in context as embedded and embodied communication. Applying ethnographic and performance-centered approaches to case studies from the Busoga region in Eastern Uganda and employing critical discourse theories for analysis, this project demonstrates that an artistic record of the riddle must elaborate the context, event, and audience of each instance of the riddle. Such documentation also facilitates accurate re-performance, production, and reproduction of this largely neglected genre of literature. The result of this study is an analytic record of a sample of riddles that documents the performer and the non-verbal performance features, aspects previously less emphasised in riddle scholarship. The ordinary people who perform riddles are acknowledged as the authors of this grand work.

Doctoral Candidate, Literature, Makerere University  -  Riddling as Everyday Discourse: Analysis of Context, Event, and Audience

Paul Kehinde Ugboajah
Paul Kehinde Ugboajah  |  Abstract
This study focuses on attempts to control one of the negative consequences of the social change heralded by the advent of colonialism in Lagos as it relates to youths: the social problem called juvenile delinquency. It critically examines the origin and development of social welfare services in the crown colony of Lagos as attempted solutions to new forms of negative social behaviors exhibited by Lagos youths. The "juvenile delinquent" emerged in the 1920s and became so visible during the Second World War as to catch the attention of the British colonial government, compelling them to take measures to curb the phenomenon. Examples of "delinqencies" include: theft, gambling, wandering, drug addiction, hawking, juvenile prostitution and homelessness, child marriage, and pick-pocketing.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Ibadan  -  Juvenile Delinquency and its Control in Colonial Lagos, 1861 to 1960