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. 


Francisca Adzo Adjei
Francisca Adzo Adjei  |  Abstract
This thesis explores the structural and discourse characteristics of the description of dynamic motion events in Ewe. It investigates how these characteristics develop in children learning Ewe at different ages as contrasted with Ewe-speaking adults. It aims to find whether patterns of language use have any influence on Ewe-speaking children's development of motion event descriptions, as reported in the literature for children from other language backgrounds.

Doctoral Student, Linguistics, University of Ghana  -  Learning to Express Motion Events in Ewe

Edith B. Lyimo
Edith B. Lyimo  |  Abstract
This study analyzes the portrayal of gender stereotyping in Kiswahili children's books. First, it examines the assignment of gender roles, status and positions, among characters in the Kiswahili Children's literary books. Second, it identifies and describes how language and its figurative aspects shape and reflect gender stereotyping in children's literary books. Third, it explores how the representation of gender stereotyping is conceived and understood by children's books stake holders. Fourth, it examines the chronological evolution of gender representation in Kiswahili children’s literary books. In addition to 30 books under analysis, questionnaires and interviews collect views and opinions of children's books stakeholders with regard to gender stereotyping in these books.

Assistant Lecturer, Literature, University of Dar es Salaam  -  The Portrayal of Gender Stereotyping in Kiswahili Children's Literary Books in Tanzania

Edem Adotey
Edem Adotey  |  Abstract
The study investigates Ewe conceptions of political space from the nineteenth century to the present. The study argues that there are many overlapping and/or conflicting mental maps that are invoked in a variety of political contexts even when the same people are involved.

Graduate Assistant, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana  -  Chieftaincy among the Ewe Astride the Ghana-Togo Boundary, C. Early Nineteenth Century to Present

Happinos Marufu
Happinos Marufu  |  Abstract
This study investigates human behavior during the Late Stone Age (LSA) in northeastern Zimbabwe as indicated by organisation of lithic technology, settlement/ land-use patterns, and subsistence strategies. In an attempt to assess behavioral traits and adaptive strategies, it compares three zones with different ecological properties from the northeastern Zimbabwe, particularly the Murewa-Mutoko landscape. Similarities of behavioral traits in these three ecological zones would be evidence of similarities in adaptive strategies, while their differences would mean different strategies employed by LSA people. The study also establishes the cultural sequence of LSA by noting some variations exisistent in what has been thought to be single cultural entity. The project responds to limited research in the country, and LSA archaeology’s regional bias towards southwestern Zimbabwe.

Doctoral Candidate, Archaeology, University of Dar es Salaam  -  Foraging Communities in Northern Zimbabwe: An Archaeological Study of Human Behaviour during the Late Stone Age

Wasiu Ogunboye Alabi
Wasiu Ogunboye Alabi  |  Abstract
In the history of Ibadan, it has been difficult to disentangle the rural from the urban. Urban-rural interface covers a multitude of flow of goods, services, capital, and people between the heartland and the hinterland. The development of cities in Third World countries has stressed these relationships. However, little has been documented historically on the urban-rural food supply system and marketing in Ibadan, the largest indigenous city in tropical Africa. Against this background, this study examines urban-rural interface in Ibadan in the context of social relations, urban food supply, and marketing systems between 1900-1999. In specific terms, it identifies and discusses the roles of key actors in entrenching cultural commodities, staple food production, and marketing. It also examines the impact of agricultural food policies, social class, gender, ethnicity, transport, and remittances on the urban food supply, rural income, employment, productivity, and urban consumption.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Ibadan  -  The Urban-Rural Interface in Ibadan, 1900 to 1999

Cleopas Chika Mba
Cleopas Chika Mba  |  Abstract
The fundamental problem of global justice is precisely about how to develop a (set of) universally valid principle(s) of social cooperation. Unfortunately, in the discourse on global justice, neither of the two dominant and opposing theoretical “camps” – advocates of the “political conception” of global justice, nor the cosmopolitans – has been able to meet this challenge. This is because both camps have not taken full cognizance of the overriding role culture and cultural prejudices play in determining the bases of social cooperation/interaction. Relying on critical multidisciplinary pathways, this study attempts a resolution of the culture problematic, by anchoring an account of global justice on Fanon’s notion of “cultural humanism.” Cultural humanism would necessarily midwife a new and flourishing global order of inter-cultural equality, where the interest of every human being, irrespective of cultural or religious persuasion/location, would matter equally, and the principles of justice would be established globally and recognized consistently and persistently.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of Ibadan  -  Fanon's Cultural Humanism and the Challenge of Global Justice

Lengji Nudiya Danjuma
Lengji Nudiya Danjuma  |  Abstract
The project examines the extent to which the characterization in Universal Grammar (UG) of three syntactic elements—Move-alpha, TOP, and PRO—can be applied to African languages. Has their characterization captured the full range of permissible options in UG, since not all known human language data, particularly African language data, are used to account for the facts of UG? The project appeals to the representation of the selected elements in the Minimalist Program, with emphasis on operational and explanatory adequacy. The use of data from two Chadic and one Atlantic-Congo language allows for a comparative and unified analysis. This investigation into the workings of less studied African languages strengthens, extends, and modifies the theory of UG, and questions its wholesale application to African languages, arguing that there can be no adequate theory of UG unless syntactic theory can account for the facts presented in African languages.

Lecturer, Language and Linguistics, University of Jos  -  The Applicability of Three Selected Syntactic Elements in the Description of African Languages and Implication for the Theory of Universal Grammar (UG): Ngas, Hausa, and Fulfulde as Case Studies

Titilayo Tilewola Nwaokoro
Titilayo Tilewola Nwaokoro  |  Abstract
The major focus of this study is the evolution of female education in Ondo Town between 1875 and 2008. While informal traditional education held sway for almost half of this period, the establishment of the first secondary school for girls in Ondo in 1955 (36 years after the boys had been enjoying secondary education) marked a turning point as well as a new beginning in female education in the ancient town. Increasing female participation in Western education has impacted the whole process of role change as well: qualified Ondo women have generally been able to take advantage of new opportunities in the labor market. This has enhanced their status in several respects. However, although women have had some success in challenging the bastions of male dominance, men continue to dominate both the private and public realms.

Graduate Student, History, University of Ibadan  -  Women, Education, and Social Change in Ondo, 1875 to 2008

Reginald Akuoko Duah
Reginald Akuoko Duah  |  Abstract
This research presents a detail account of causative constructions in Akan. The study presents the morphological and syntactic ways of expressing causation in the language and their significance as far as meaing is concerned. It is shown that in Akan, causatives display a continuum in the morphological and syntactic integration of their components. Again, the long held view that lexical causatives express more direct causation while analytic causatives express indrect causation cannot be rigourously applied in Akan as, in certain cases, the latter is the only option. Significantly, this study emphasizes that the different analytic causative constructions evident in different dialects of the language do not have analogous structure. The salient semantic properties of the causative in Akan is also examined and it is argued that the use of the same construction in expressing both the notions of 'causing' and 'letting' is non-arbitrary especially when Force-Dynamics analysis is employed.

Doctoral Candidate, Linguistics, University of Ghana  -  Syntax and Semantics of Causative Constructions in Akan

Oluwatoyin Ogundeji
Oluwatoyin Ogundeji  |  Abstract
Since the inception of the theater tradition in Nigeria, there has been a conscious effort to involve women to get rounded and appealling performances and responses. Women participated despite insult and opposition and made indelible marks on the sands of theatrical time. Their contributions were both performative and domestic, for many of them became wives to the various theater leaders they worked with. Why have seven decades of history been silent about them? Why did they have to work and live in servitude? Why did they choose to live in polygamous settings and what made it all worthwhile? Where did they turn to when society initially turned its back on them? Through interviews, the study explores these questions to give insight into the magnitude of sacrifices they made on the altar of theatrical succeess in Nigeria. The research also documents the stories of these women before they are lost to oblivion. The study adds to the existing knowledge of and literature on the women in the theater, and at the same, opens up new frontiers for further research.

Doctoral Candidate, Dramatic Arts, University of Ibadan  -  An Evaluation of Women's Contributions to the Popular Culture of the Yoruba Travelling Theater

Adeola Adijat Faleye
Adeola Adijat Faleye  |  Abstract
This field-oriented research identifies and classifies the socio-semiotic features of the Àwòrò-Òsé and Ìsìnrò festivals as a proper examination of the ideology underlying the use of symbolism, indices, codes ,and icons within the context of performances at the festivals. The study also finds a measure for determining the structures and sequence of the festivals, while evaluating the effects of modernization on the festivals. Creating a poetic map of the performances within the festivals among the Ìlá-Ò?ràngún, Ìgbómìnà people is essential to this study for proper projection into the relevance of the continuation and preservation of the various processes of their festivals within the community, and by the larger Ò?sun State government. A semiotic investigative mode of research with a methodology that rests solely on a combination of an eye-witness account and an open ended oral interview of the key performers and some other relevant people within Ìlá-Òràngún, following an application of an eclectic approach for a final analysis is intended.

Lecturer, Linguistics and African Languages, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  A Semiotic Investigation of Àwòrò-Ò?sé? and Ìsinrò Festivals among the Ìlá-Ò?ràngún Ìgbómìnà People

Stephen Toyin Ogundipe
Stephen Toyin Ogundipe  |  Abstract
This study examines how Olanrewaju Adepoju, a modern Yoruba poet, exemplifies a critical deployment of hybridity in his poetry by fusing indigenous Yoruba and Islamic traditions. Despite being the most widely known poet in Yoruba, Adepoju's poetry has not attracted comprehensive study. His influence is, however, more far-reaching than his apparent neglect might suggest. While numerous broad studies generally characterize ewi genre, this work aims at a comprehensive investigation of Adepoju’s oeuvre with a view to characterizing it, underscoring its uniqueness, and accounting for the development of his poetic idiom. The study draws on 79 recorded audio performances of the poet as its primary data and applies qualitative methods in determining relevant poems for its analysis. It clarifies the sense in which various sub-genres of Yoruba poetry that Adepoju adapts manifest the hybrid constitution of his poetics.

Researcher, English, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  Hybridity and the Invention of Olanrewaju Adepoju's Poetry

Ebuka Elias Igwebuike
Ebuka Elias Igwebuike  |  Abstract
There are many studies addressing the historical, sociopolitical, economic, and legal-diplomatic aspects of the Nigerian-Cameroonian Bakassi Peninsula border conflict situation, but little attention has been paid to the issue of media discourse and language. From a critical discourse perspective, this study, therefore, examines the media representations of the conflict in order to assess the role of the press (Nigerian and Cameroonian) in the conflict mediation and resolution. The project employs the socio-cognitive model of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Systemic-Functional Linguistics (SFL) as research methodology. While the CDA approach unearths the hidden “ideological square” (van Dijk, 2006) in the data, the SFL analysis reveals how participants and the conflict events are represented through transitivity. The study demonstrates the necessity of critical discourse analysis for understanding conflict discourse in the media in Africa.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Ibadan  -  A Critical Discourse Analysis of Media Representations of the Nigerian-Cameroonian Bakassi Peninsula Border Conflict

Robert - Ojambo
Robert - Ojambo  |  Abstract
This study explores the land question in the sociopolitical conflicts in the former districts of Bukedi and Bugisu in Eastern Uganda, particularly the relationship between the colonial and postcolonial land policies. It also examines how the social and economic development within the societies of Bukedi and Bugisu, areas that did not fall within the old centralised kingdoms, over the period of study have impinged on both land-policy making and land-related sociopolitical conflicts. Using a qualitative methodology,the study establishes that policies affecting land-based livelihood activities have led to a number of sociopolitical conflicts in the area.

Lecturer, History, Kyambogo University  -  The Land Question in the Sociopolitical Conflicts in the Former Districts of Bukedi and Bugisu in Eastern Uganda,1900 to 2007

Chukwuezugo Krydz Ikwuemesi
Chukwuezugo Krydz Ikwuemesi  |  Abstract
This work surveys the art and aesthetic experience of two Nonwestern societies in order to challenge the classification of creative efforts beyond the traditional Western frame as “non-art.” It also examines how this way of framing has been affected by postcolonial tendencies.

Senior Lecturer, Fine & Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka  -  Art among the Igbo of Nigeria and Ainu of Japan In the Postcolonial Era

Mofeyisara Oluwatoyin Omobowale
Mofeyisara Oluwatoyin Omobowale  |  Abstract
Sexuality and power as cultural phenomena cut across all spaces in human societies, especially the market space. The relational presence and effect of sexuality and power in the market space are important to human development. It is a dimension of power that forms the basis for inclusion and exclusion in wealth and profit distribution in many cultures, but is particularly important in societies like Nigeria where the influence of the informal economy on national development cannot be disregarded. This study uses qualitative methodology to examine and analyze space, sexuality, and power as possible factors in the development of the informal economy in Nigeria. It focuses on Bodija market in Ibadan North, Ibadan region. Data is generated through Participant Observations, Key Informants Interviews (KII), In-depth Interviews (IDI), and 12 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). Informants were drawn from all groups, with consideration for gender balance, with a total of 560 for KII and IDI.

Doctoral Student, Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan  -  Space, Sexuality, and Power in Bodija Market Ibadan, Nigeria

Elizabeth Kyazike
Elizabeth Kyazike  |  Abstract
This is a comparative study of prehistoric cultural connections in the Upper Nile catchment from 5000-1500 Before Present. The study examines cultural similarities and differences as reflected by material culture, historical records, oral history, architecture, and social organization of the people. Since humans are directly responsible for the dissemination of culture, these products provide insight into cultural change. The study draws on pottery decoration and form, lithic artifact types, and raw materials and faunal remains, as well as theories of how migration and diffusion explain the formation and development of culture, to to understand the thinking of Upper Nile residents. Bearing in mind the limitation of the down the line trade model of considering one variable that is distance, other variables like physical geography are explored in examining cultural interactions.

Doctoral Candidate, History and Archaeology, University of Dar es Salaam  -  Cultural Interactions in the Upper Nile Catchment Areas, 5000 to 1500 Before Present

Ayodeji Isaac Shittu
Ayodeji Isaac Shittu  |  Abstract
The study interrogates the view of traditional anthropologists that ethnographies are objective records of social history but that literary autobiographies are inauthentic records of social history because they are subjective and self-reflexive. This view is held despite postmodern anthropologists’ and social scientists' position that ethnographies are self-reflexive constructions of cultural history, which can only be appropriately conceptualised as autoethnographies. By exploring the interplay of history, geography, and personal experiences in Nigerian migrant and travel poetry in English, the study demonstrates that well crafted self-writings as cultural productions involve both the re/writing of self and society. This is done through a historico-biographical exploration of social poetics and tropes of cultural memory in poetic autobiographies of Tanure Ojaide, Odia Ofeimun, Femi Oyebode, Afam Akeh, Olu Oguibe, Remi Raji-Oyelade, and Uche Nduka.

Graduate Student, English, University of Ibadan  -  The Genre of Ethnoautobiography and Nigerian Migrant and Travel Poetry in English