African Humanities Program Postdoctoral 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. Postdoctoral awards are listed below; also see dissertation completion awards.The program is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Read more about this fellowship program.

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


Olutayo Charles Adesina
Olutayo Charles Adesina  |  Abstract
The focus of this study is to establish the social and cultural practices that shaped the institution of marriage in pre-colonial Yorubaland and the colonial factors that altered the age-old practices. The findings revealed that British colonialism injected serious disequilibrium into the age-old values and practices of Yoruba marriage institution, and this ultimately had grave consequences for the indigenous ruling institution - the custodian of the sacred values of the people. The wives of Yoruba chiefs began to take advantage of newly-imposed marriage ordinances and laws to begin the repudiation of traditional practices that made it taboo for a Yoruba chief's wife to ask for divorce. This work, which adopts the historical/analytic approach, interrogates gender relations in the inner recesses of Yoruba traditional ruling homes and the steps taken to address the problems represented by the divorcement, elopement and sexual transgressions of wives of some Yoruba chiefs in colonial times.

Senior Lecturer, History & International Studies, Osun State University  -  'Runaway Wives' of Yoruba Chiefs and the Narratives of Women's Sexuality in Colonial Nigeria

Dina Adhiambo Ligaga
Dina Adhiambo Ligaga  |  Abstract
In this project, I argue that reading the 'public script' in Kenya which navigates through various forms of popular media enables us to interrogate how dominant ideologies are circulated within discourses of everyday life. The project will offer a critical analysis of a series of popular texts-defined loosely through their access to and circulation of themes drawn from everyday life-and demonstrate how in fact, these texts are involved in the function of trying to normalize extremely problematic dominant ideologies. Specifically focusing on how issues of nationalism, ethnicity, gender and sexuality are persistently constructed in the selected texts, I hope to show how Kenyan popular media participate in embedding certain notions of being by circulating them as preferred readings. I hope to offer a more nuanced reading of how popular media, popular culture and debates around ideology collide in the space of the everyday.

Senior Lecturer, Media Studies, University of Witwatersrand  -  Reading the Public Script: Mediation of Everyday Life in Kenyan Popular Media

Esther Serwaah Afreh
Esther Serwaah Afreh  |  Abstract
The study proposes a cognitive linguistic study of the various ways in which conceptual metaphor and related cognitive processes such as metonymy and blending are exploited for creative purposes in advertising texts and accompanying images in Ghanaian magazines. The focus is on the identification of conventional metaphors and on their elaboration and use as a creative basis. The data will consist of advertisements that will be collected from Ghanaian magazines between the years 2006 and 2012. Although the textual content forms the starting point, significant attention will also be paid to the interplay between text and image. Using tools provided by both conceptual metaphor theory and blending theory, which are seen as complementary theories, detailed qualitative analyses of representative advertisements of how the metaphorical content is signalled are made.

Lecturer, English, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology  -  Metaphor and Creativity in Ghanaian Magazine Advertising

Gerald Chikozho Mazarire
Gerald Chikozho Mazarire  |  Abstract
This is a book project is about a ‘place’ that effectively no longer exists-in the sense of being a recognisable unit of territory. ‘Chishanga’ has always been a term of contestation, referring more or less tenuously to a stretch of ground across which struggles for authority power and identity have taken place. In tracking and examining these struggles using various oral as well as archival sources, this book documents the process through which Chishanga was transformed from being a satellite province of a pre-colonial empire known as the Rozvi in 18th century Zimbabwe to become a part of a Karanga polity under the vaHera dynasty of Mapanzure that subsequently disintegrated due to colonial administrative and land use policies. Central to the discussion is also the reclamation of ‘Chishanga’ in the late 1990s through a process initiated by its people in the 1960s using their numerous but discordant claims.

Senior Lecturer, History & International Studies, Stellenbosch University  -  Chishanga: Landscape, History and Memory in Southen Zimbabwe c.1750 to 2000

Akinmade Timothy Akande
Akinmade Timothy Akande  |  Abstract
The interconnectedness between language and identity is undoubtedly very strong as we can locate identity in language and vice-versa. This link becomes much stronger in multilingual settings where speakers switch from one language to another to express identity. It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to investigate how the Nigerian army negotiates multiple identities through code-switching and language choice. The research settings will consist of six army barracks spread across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Fifty informants will be selected from each of the six barracks. Participant observation and face-to-face interviews will be used as means of gathering data from our informants and the data collected will be analyzed descriptively by using the existing works on code-switching as our framework. The study will reveal various identities of the army based on their profession, their ethnic, cultural and religious affiliations, and their social networks.

Senior Lecturer, English, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  Multilingual Practices in Nigerian Army Barracks

Adebayo Mosobalaje
Adebayo Mosobalaje  |  Abstract
Erotic music is percussion music, with foreign musical accompaniment, practised by the Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria for the enjoyment of the urban underclass and the wealthy elite. Its indigenous variety known as efe was popular and its practitioners comprised both men and women. On the contrary, the contemporary Yoruba male religious world, through its foreign religions, prohibits women from performing erotic music but hypocritically tolerates men. The study therefore examines the agency of the popular erotic music of women renegade artistes in the contemporary Yoruba society governed by foreign religious strictures with a view to establishing their music as performance of power. Using feminist and agency theories to study selected song albums of Iyaladuke Abolodefeeloju and Saint Janet, it is observed that the erotic music of the renegade artistes is a domain of aesthetic revolution, women empowerment and subversion of the male religious cultural hegemony.

Lecturer I, English, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  Erotic Music, Women and the Contemporary Yoruba Society

Harrie Uvietobor Bazunu
Harrie Uvietobor Bazunu  |  Abstract
Benin is famous for bronzes, ivories, wood, leather and pre-colonial military conquests, through the Igun n’ Ugboha (Ugboha blacksmiths) which provided the materials for artisans, agriculture, military and domestic living. These blacksmiths and their works, scarcely mentioned in the literature on Benin art, appear to have ‘faded away’ like their corrosive iron products. They forged, cutlasses, hoes; Umozo and Agbada (sword and dagger), spear-heads and arrows; domestic items, religious/ritual paraphernalia among others. Apart from oral tradition and few surviving artifacts, it appears not much scholarly attention has been accorded these silent pathfinders and nation builders’ art/security roles in history. How was the blacksmithing tradition maintained? What source were their raw-materials? What tools/equipments were involved? What were their products? What is the state of blacksmithing in the Kingdom today? Using available literature, in-depth interviews, against current blacksmithing practices, this project investigates Ugboha blacksmiths’ role in the building of Benin Empire.

Lecturer I, Fine and applied Arts, Delta State University, Abraka  -  Igun N’ Ugboha (Ugboha Blacksmiths): The Unsung Benin Empire Builders

Nambalirwa Helen Nkabala
Nambalirwa Helen Nkabala  |  Abstract
The research will focus on understanding how the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have used the Bible to sustain the rebellion which started in northern Uganda and has now spread to the Central African Republic. LRA is an armed group that was fighting in northern Uganda since 1987 and is currently based in the central African Republican. Their main contention was to establish a government based on the biblical Ten Commandments. This research therefore seeks to understand what Old Testament motifs the LRA used in their rhetoric, and how they were used. To pursue this, the researcher will conduct interviews in northern Uganda with former LRA members. This study is an example of interdisciplinary research, where theory and methodology from both the social sciences and biblical studies will be employed.

Assistant Lecturer, Religions and Peace Studies, Makerere University  -  Understanding the Use of Old Testament Texts by the Lord's Resistance Army

Joanna Boampong
Joanna Boampong  |  Abstract
The critical discourse on African Literatures has mainly been constructed with reference to Francophone, Anglophone, and to a lesser extent, Lusophone writings. Notwithstanding the common background of colonization and post-independence socio-economic, political and cultural patterns of development it shares with its counterparts, Hispanophone writings are virtually unacknowledged. This project employs the ideological framework of African feminist theory to study the writings of Sefi Atta, Fatou Diome and Guillermina Mekuy. By studying together the works of these budding female writers from the Anglophone, Francophone and Hispanophone African literary traditions respectively, I seek to do two things: engage Hispanophone perspectives in the critical discourse on African literatures and, establish and explore a dialogic relationship among Anglophone, Francophone and Hispanophone literary traditions. Ultimately, I underscore the composite perspectives that, studied together, they bring to bear on topical issues relating to women’s agency and sexuality, marriage and polygamy, motherhood and family.

Lecturer, Modern Languages, University of Ghana  -  Accounting for Hispanophone Perspectives in New African Writing: Sefi Atta, Fatou Diome and Guillermina Mekuy

Okechukwu Charles Nwafor
Okechukwu Charles Nwafor  |  Abstract
Asọ ebì is a practice which is thought to have originated among the Yoruba who live in the Western part of Nigeria. In Yoruba, asọ means cloth while ebì means family. Translated literally, asọ ebì means family cloth. Among many other recent interpretations, asọ ebì fabrics connote solidarity, uniformity, oneness and friendship. This project, which will focus on the south eastern part of Nigeria, hopes to investigate whether asọ ebì’s solidarity is bound by any genuine mobilizing sense of collective. I ask whether asọ ebì gift’s claims as the spiralling movement towards the consolidation of collective relationships has been supplanted by a sense of individualism and ephemerality. I enquire whether the spirit of asọ ebì solidarity has been substituted by shallow, bodily attire and finally I investigate the roles of visual cultural practices in the social and cultural valences that constitute asọ ebì as a gesture of group conviviality.

Lecturer II, Fine & Applied Arts, Nnamdi Azikiwe University  -  The Fabric of Friendship: Asọ ebì and the Moral Economy of Amity in Nigeria

DeValera Nana Botchway
DeValera Nana Botchway  |  Abstract
This work study’s how Ghanaian boxing emerged from both indigenous and foreign (British) inventiveness, and examines boxing’s social meaning and impact within the colonial and postcolonial milieux of popular culture in Ghana. On that trajectory, this work reconsiders the prevailing conception of boxing as adversative to ‘enlightened’ human culture, by rationalising it as a positive formulator of individual and national identities. The study examines the reasons for the strong gravitation of Ga-Mashie, an ethnic group in Ghana, to boxing, and presents a biography about the International Boxing Hall of Fame legend Azumah Nelson, who is a member of Ga Mashie, to show how a boxer with ‘ghetto’ beginnings used the sport to significantly shape the history and form of Ghana’s popular culture, transcend social obscurity to affluence, and internationalise Ghana. This work contributes to the scholarly discourse on identity formation and social empowerment through the popular culture of sports.

Senior Lecturer, History, University of Cape Coast  -  The “Craft Of Bruising” And Azumah "Ring Professor" Nelson: A Social History Of Ghanaian Boxing

Ifeyinwa Genevieve Okolo
Ifeyinwa Genevieve Okolo  |  Abstract
Existing studies on sexuality in Africa focus on women as the only violated or disadvantaged gender, keeping silent on the ways structures like patriarchy and religion that sexually violate women also violate men. This project, therefore, investigates the representation of sexual violation of men in African fiction. This is in an attempt to show that men are sexually victimised by the same structures as women and in given contexts which are capable of defining/redefining their Otherness. Festus Iyayi's "Heroes", Isidore Okpewho's "The Last Duty", Shimmer Chinodya's "Can We Talk", Ayi Kwei Armah's "Why Are We So Blest", Yambo Ouologuem’s "Bound to Violence", and Bessie Head’s "A Question of Power" are selected representative texts. These texts are read deconstructively, applying aspects of the psychoanalytical theories that account for sexuality, suffering and Otherness. It is hoped that this work shows how men, just as women, are sexually violated.

Tutor, General Studies, University of Ibadan  -  Sexual Violation of Men in Selected African Prose Fiction

Grace Diabah
Grace Diabah  |  Abstract
The proposed research aims at investigating the linguistic and visual representations of gender identities in Ghanaian commercial adverts. This is in response to the fact that although adverts mirror social realities and thus constitute a good site for investigating gender identities, there is no known study that looks at how gender identities are linguistically and/or visually represented in Ghanaian adverts. To achieve my aim, I shall collect and analyse commercial print and radio adverts which have been running from November 2012 to August 2013. Through the use of Feminist Post-structuralist Discourse Analysis and multi-modal text analysis, I hope to show how Ghanaian commercial adverts mirror social realities in the way they use language and visuals to portray the diverse identities of modern Ghanaian men and women. Upon completion, this research is envisaged to add to the existing literature on gender and language by providing contributions from Ghanaian (African) socio-cultural contexts.

Lecturer, Linguistics, University of Ghana  -  Representation of Gender Identities in Ghanaian Commercial Adverts: Sustaining or Challenging Gender Stereotypes?

Henri Ajayi Oripeloye
Henri Ajayi Oripeloye  |  Abstract
Existing studies on exilic literary discourse in postcolonial Anglophone West African poetry have focused predominantly on the negative psychological effects of exile such as alienation and nostalgia with less attention paid to its positive attractions in terms of global cultural relations. This study investigates new strategies of re/presenting exile in Anglophone West African poetry. It adopts contextual and critical methods of analysis to explore the various exilic motifs of selected Anglophone West African poets, drawing insights from the works of postcolonial theorists like Homi Bhabha, Edward Said and Gayatri Spivak. The selection of authors is based on the evidence of postcolonial exilic narrations in their works and the reflection of the various generic/formal innovations about the postcolonial condition in Anglophone West Africa. Generally, these poets explore the complexities of exile, not only in physical and geographical terms but also in respect of the interrogations of socio-cultural and psycho-emotional spaces.

Lecturer I, English/Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  Representations of Exile in Anglophone West African Poetry

Florence Ebila
Florence Ebila  |  Abstract
This proposal aims at producing a book manuscript out of my Doctoral dissertation. My focus is on three contemporary political autobiographies by three prominent African women political figures who are contemporaries; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Wangari Muta Maathai and Princess Elizabeth Bagaaya Nyabongo. They were chosen because as political autobiographies by African women actively involved in the national politics in their respective countries at the top level, the narratives expose the opportunities and challenges they faced as women who came up against a largely male dominated political space of the contemporary postcolonial nation state. These women represent women who inherited from colonialism a political space greatly shaped by patriarchy. From the study, I analyze discourses of emowerment, political participation, gendered identities and other thematic issues that run across all three texts which enables me to draw conclusions about the nature of gender and state politics in African states during this period through comparing the different personal experiences. The conclusions point to the trends and changes in discourses about women’s political engagement in national politics in Africa between 1970 to 2010.

Lecturer, Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University  -  Gender and Nationalism in African Women’s Political Autobiographies: The Case of Wangari Muta Maathai, Elizabeth Bagaaya Nyabongo and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Jordan Samson Rengshwat
Jordan Samson Rengshwat  |  Abstract
The Sudan United Mission British Branch (S.U.M., B.B.) implemented the three-self policy, but there are no documents to show how this was carried out. This research examines the policy, why and how it was implemented, and the impact of the policy on the Church and the Mission. The significance of this study is that it addressed the problem of the overpampering of converts on the mission field of C.O.C.I.N. It also addressed the current wide gap in the relationship between S.U.M., B.B. and C.O.C.I.N. Both primary and secondary sources were used for this study.

Lecturer, Historical Theology, Theological College of Northern Nigeria  -  The Sudan United Mission British Branch 1934 to 1977: An Examination of the Mission's Indigenous Church Policy

Rebecca Hodes
Rebecca Hodes  |  Abstract
The ‘health humanities’ is an emerging field of research, seeking to apply the investigative approaches of humanities scholarship to subjects that have fallen traditionally within the realms of medicine and public health. This research aims to explore the history of abortion in South Africa from the 1950s to the present, a period characterized by momentous changes in the medical, legal and social reception of abortion across the globe. Through combining an array of sources, and through an innovative treatment of clinical case reports in particular, this research seeks to provide new insights into the history of reproductive health. It aims to explore how changes in social conditions, laws, technologies and beliefs about the roles of women have determined the ways in which they have terminated their pregnancies, contextualizing this within the broader social and medical history of South Africa.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for the Humanities in Africa, Huma  -  The Medical History of Abortion in South Africa, c. 1950 to 2010

Kayode Michael Samuel
Kayode Michael Samuel  |  Abstract
Existing ethnomusicological studies have shown drumming among the Yorùbá of Southwestern Nigeria as a stereotypically male dominated profession. The changing nuances of gender in Yorùbá dùndún drumming is yet to be fully understood. This study examines women’s involvement in contemporary dùndún drumming. It documents the training, works and contributions of the female dùndún practitioners to the development of music in Nigeria. The study relies on primary data gathered through oral interviews conducted with both female and male dundun practitioners from major Yoruba towns Southwestern Nigeria as well as music recordings and their transcriptions collected through participant observation method. Using the lenses of progressive liberalism and theory of continuity and change, the study queries the continued justification of gender stereotype against the womenfolk.

Lecturer I, Music, University of Ibadan  -  The Challenge of Gender: Emergence of Female Drummers Among the Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria

Folasade Oyinlola Hunsu
Folasade Oyinlola Hunsu  |  Abstract
This research proposes an alternative approach to the reading of otherness in African women’s autobiography. It is inspired by the Oloto proverb, rooted in Yoruba culture which projects otherness as difference, the uniqueness and power of the individual to speak for “self” as an “other”. It attempts to classify selected African women's autobiographical writing by exploring the deployment of narrative strategies and how historical and socio-cultural factors have shaped their celebration of otherness and enabled this tradition. It shows that selected non-fictional and fictional autobiographical texts converege under three main types - as texts that show speakability/vocality and resistance, individuality and selective collectivity, and motherhood and female-bonding as markers of otherness.

Lecturer I, English, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  Engendering an Alternative Approach to Reading Otherness in African Women's Autobiography

Moses Terhemba Tsenongu
Moses Terhemba Tsenongu  |  Abstract
This study emphasizes attention on the literatures of African minority groups by focusing on the Tiv and constructing the history of their poetry through biographical attention to fifteen key composers. This history through biography is capable of harvesting the literary heritage of Tiv poetry from the earliest times to the present as well as further underscoring the originality of oral literature generally. For, the biographical attention to be paid to selected composers will indeed narrow the gap between oral and written literatures and consequently place orature once more on its correct pedestal of literary acceptability. The research is field based; thankfully the needed fieldwork has already been conducted and much of the data transcribed and translated for analysis. The scrupulous selection of strategic composers done here and the equally conscientious analysis of their artistic careers to be done would definitely guarantee a fair historical paradigm for Tiv oral poetry.

Senior Lecturer, English, Benue State University  -  Historicizing the Literatures of Minority African Cultures through Biography: The Case of Tiv Oral Poetry

Adediran Daniel Ikuomola
Adediran Daniel Ikuomola  |  Abstract
The conception of albinism and the plight facing persons with albinism (PWA) in southwestern Nigeria has long been viewed and over emphasized from the biomedical and experienced discrimination netted on them. However there are paucity of information on the socio-historical conception of albinism and the corollary effect on albinos’ sexuality. This study seeks to provide reasonable answers to the following research questions: What are the socio-cultural barriers facing PWA in the formation of identity and sexual negotiations? What are the factors affecting sexual relationships of PWA? What are the cultural barriers hindering sexual relationships between PWA and People without Albinism? How do PWA express their sexual urges between persons without albinism? What are the gender dimensions towards sexual advances? How do familial influences affect sexual relationships of PWA? Methodologically participant observation, in-depth interviews with key informants, and focus group discussion will be adopted in eliciting data for this monograph.

Lecturer I, Sociology & Anthropology, Adekunle Ajasin University, Nigeria  -  Socio-Historical Conception of Albinism and the Corollary Effect on Albinos’ Sexuality in South Western Nigeria

Amanda Tumusiime
Amanda Tumusiime  |  Abstract
This study proposes that patriarchal perceptions have continued to influence the kinds of images through which women are represented in Ugandan art. This argument is well supported by evidence from visual art as well as from other sources of popular culture. This proposed study intends to show how African women in general and Ugandan women in particular are 'othered' in cultural discourse authored by men and expressed through the medium of art. Such images of women in Ugandan art serve a political purpose, the most important being to silence the voices of women. On the other hand, the study will articulate that despite their small number Ugandan profession women artists, who are formally trained, see themselves as new woman by virtue of their tertiary education and professional practice. These ‘new’ women are able to articulate different visual representations from those formed by men, thus epitomising unrelenting resistance to patriarchal oppression.

Lecturer, Visual Communication and Multimedia, Makerere University  -  Art and Gender: Imag[in]ing the New Woman in Contemporary Ugandan Art

Angelus Angelo Kakande
Angelus Angelo Kakande  |  Abstract
Since 1989 Uganda has embraced neoliberal reforms which have informed cultural discourses in sub-Saharan Africa. The study examines ways in which these reforms have shaped contemporary art in Uganda to broaden the available knowledge on the relationship between the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) and contemporary African art. Using historiography and the social theory of art, the research interrogates the proposition that, although neoliberal reforms erode formal art institutions, they do not exactly prevent an alternative cultural discourse from evolving and re-directing the making, meaning and function of art. In fact they seem to stimulate it. To examine this proposition, the study looks beyond the narrow confines of Uganda’s formal art institutions, which are collapsing as a result of the SAP, to analyse the issues which seem to have motivated new art brokerages to emerge, survive and expand the margins of contemporary art in the region.

Senior Lecturer, Industrial Art and Applied Design, Makerere University  -  Surviving as Entrepreneurs: Contemporary Ugandan Art and the Era of Neoliberal Reform

Emmanuel Chukwuemenam Umezinwa
Emmanuel Chukwuemenam Umezinwa  |  Abstract
Ezenduka, an iconic pioneer composer for the Igbo Catholic liturgy for fifty years, wrote over one hundred and fifty works before and after studying music at the Catholic University of America. These works sung throughout Igbo land today are scattered in many sheets of paper, never studied and never catalogued. This work is an attempt to assemble all the works of Ezenduka, notate them and analyze the styles and forms which became a tradition. These works are significant for many reasons: indigenous languages were then discouraged in the Latin church of the 1960's in Nigeria; local instruments were considered fetish; even the local people still prefered latin to Igbo language. This original work brings together, ethnomusicology, history, ecclessiology, clash of cultures, Igbo language issues and the dialectics of musical laws of composition versus tonal demands. It will add to the existing body of knowledge.

Lecturer II, Music, Nnamdi Azikiwe University  -  Collection, Notation and Analysis of Ezenduka's Compositions and their Significance in Igbo Liturgical History (1962 to 2012)

Pamela Khanakwa
Pamela Khanakwa  |  Abstract
This study explores how the Bagisu of eastern Uganda used imbalu (male circumcision) as a political currency to generate debates about ideal masculinity and nationhood during key moments of the twentieth century. The Bagisu practiced circumcision as a marker of transition from boyhood to manhood. However, during the colonial and postcolonial moments, imbalu became a site on which Bagisu cultural nationalists asked not only basic questions about ideal manhood and masculinity but also about nationhood. Cultural nationalists rejected European medicalization of imbalu because it contradicted their understanding of proper manhood and masculinity. From the 1950s imbalu debates shifted from emphasizing responsible manhood and masculinity to focus on an ethnic nationalism closely tied to territory and physical boundaries. In the 1960s, imbalu struggles manifested themselves in arguments over manly authority and legitimacy. The study shows how cultural nationalists were able to convert imbalu into a litmus test of nationalist belonging.

Research Fellow, Institute of Social Research, Makerere University  -  Carving Men and Nationhood: Struggles in Male Circumcision among the Bagisu in Twentieth-Century Uganda