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. 


Aliyu Isa Adamu
Aliyu Isa Adamu  |  Abstract
Several studies have viewed the West African pre-colonial trade system as an accepted system of authority, where protection and trading facilities pervaded political divisions. Thus, the predominance of Sahelian Empire’s power: Ghana, Mali and Songhay, depended on the control of intermediate trade. However, with the fall of Songhay Empire and the subsequent decline of centralized power in the eastern River Niger bend, political and economic centres shifted to northern Nigeria, Kiawa being one of them. This research includes a phase of archaeological surveys, excavation and analyses at the archaeological site of Kiawa, where extensive city walls and other structural features of a large trading town survive. It aims to recover information pertinent to reconstructing material culture change in socio-ecological and political organization and the range of trade goods due to these shifts, and to investigate non-elite areas to determine their nature and degrees of access to traded commodities.

Lecturer II, Department of Archaeology, Ahmadu Bello University  -  A Historical Archaeology of Trade and Material Culture Change in Kiawa, Nigeria

Maryam Yusuf Magaji
Maryam Yusuf Magaji  |  Abstract
This study examines Gender and Performance Aesthetics in Amada songs from Katsina State, Nigeria. Amada, a form of Hausa art, is performed for women, by women and is motivated by the impulse to change certain cultural and religious restrictions placed on the female gender. The study will study the women’s struggle for self and gender emancipation within a cultural framework which brought about conflicts that created paradoxes in their songs. The performers rejected invisibility and inaudibility and made efforts to reconfigure and extend their spaces beyond limiting cultural ones. Using metonymic constructions of musical instruments, synecdoche, transgressive idioms and body poetics, they opened up discursive spaces where feminine difference was articulated. Womanism, Structuralism and Performance theories will be employed to highlight the functions and aesthetic features of Amada, to examine women’s self expression and the paradox of freedom in seclusion and to discuss the paralinguistic constructs in the performance.

Lecturer I, Department of English and Literary Studies, Federal University Wukari  -  Gender and Oral Performance Aesthetics in Selected Amada Songs in Katsina State of Nigeria

Charles Akinsete
Charles Akinsete  |  Abstract
Some critical scholarships have classified contemporary African and African American novels as restrictively postcolonial and not experimental enough in the postmodern sense. Other positions designate postmodernism, with its subversion of modernist principles and values, as incompatible with postcolonial black experience. This study examines postmodern practice as a trope in African and African American novels with a view to establishing and justifying its innovative presence in contemporary times. Jean Francois Lyotard’s rejection of metanarratives and Jacques Derrida’s Deconstruction, complemented by Kwame Appiah’s critical reaction to postmodern thought, are adopted as pivotal postmodern theoretical approaches in critiquing three African novels — Dambudzo Marechera’s Black Sunlight, Ben Okri’s The Famished Road and K. Sellor-Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams, and three African American novels — Nelson George’s Night Work, Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes and Toni Morrison’s Home.

Doctoral Candidate, Department of English, University of Ibadan  -  The Postmodern Temper in African and African American Literature

Rebecca Ohene-Asah
Rebecca Ohene-Asah  |  Abstract
The last two decades in Ghana’s creative arts sector has witnessed a rise in Akan language video movies originating primarily from Kumasi in the Ashanti Region. The quantum of movies produced and reception have resulted in a decline of foreign movies circulation. Particularly, those of Nigerian origin which once dominated the Ghanaian cinema industry. Despite its popularity, the video products and the industry have not been widely researched. As such, their place within the intangible heritage in Ghana cannot be clearly determined. This qualitative study explores Akan language video movies as significant intangible heritage within the framework of the oldest films produced in Ghana. It focuses on language as the main heritage component in this cultural production. By comparatively analyzing relationships that may be found between the two organizations structure and products, the study will determine the heritage value of Akan language video movies in Ghana.

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, University of Ghana  -  Post-Colonial Cinema Production in Ghana: Akan Video Movies within Ghana's Cinematic Heritage

The debate on the existence of fictional entities has a long history in Metaphysics and Philosophy of Language. On one hand, fictional antirealists align with commonsense intuitions to argue that fictional entities do not exist because their existence is not necessary to account for the truth of propositions in fictional discourse. On another hand, fictional realists maintain that fictional entities exist because realist semantics is required to account for the truth of propositions in fictional discourse. Most of the arguments proposed in this debate have focused on deriving ontological commitments from the meaningfulness of language, thus presupposing a wrong relation between language and ontology. This study argues for a dual role of language in ontology. The study also argues for a plausible metaphysical approach to the question of existence, thus proposing a criterion for existence which shows that fictional entities exist as independent abstract entities.

Lecturer II, Department of Philosophy, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  A Defence of Realism on the Ontological Foundation for Fictional Reference

Omotayo Modupeola Olakojo
Omotayo Modupeola Olakojo  |  Abstract
Intertextuality is commonplace in creative works of the postmodern era. However, in the electronic world of secondary orality, the limits of intertextuality vis-a-vis plagiarism are rather difficult to determine. Electronic media are, by nature, easily submerged in one another; similarly, the nature of orality is that texts are not closed, neither is authorship exclusive. With the instruments of key informant and in-depth interviews (with bloggers and an intellectual property expert respectively), close textual reading (of blog posts), and questionnaire (for blog readers), this research will find out the points of convergence and divergence between intertextuality and plagiarism in three selected Nigerian blogs via the three components of the theory of intertextuality: author, text and reader. Plagiarism is expected to take on a new interpretation as particular attention is paid to individual versus communal ownership of creative works in an online environment in a residually oral society like Nigeria.

Doctoral Candidate, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan  -  Intertextuality in Selected Nigerian Blogs

Rowland Chukwuemeka Amaefula
Rowland Chukwuemeka Amaefula  |  Abstract
Expressions of transgendered cross-dressing in Nigerian drama have mostly been regarded as either comedy or mere feminist assertiveness. They have scarcely been seen as what they really are: acquisition of new identities with which to resist oppression. Also, being seen as taboo in most parts of Africa, there is scant academic enquiry on transgender issues in the continent's literature, especially drama. In order to open up scholarly discourses in this area, this study appropriates Judith Butler's "Gender Performativity" and Richard Schechner's "Performance Theory", and then, through textual analysis and close reading, interrogates purposively selected Nigerian Protest Plays, with a view to identifying how characters resist oppression by rejecting culturally-assigned gender roles and dress patterns. It argues further that, in Protest Plays, characters cross-dress (in itself, a form of performance) to acquire new individualities with which they dislocate the oppressor into an image of frailty, thereby defeating an unfavorable status quo.

Assistant Lecturer, Department of Languages/Linguistics/Literary Studies/Theatre Arts, Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Nigeria  -  Transgendered Cross-dressing, Performing Identities and Protest in Nigerian Drama

Ugo Pascal Onumonu
Ugo Pascal Onumonu  |  Abstract
The Nigerian civil war of 1967 to 1970 came with severe challenges that attracted the attention of the global community. As a result of the humanitarian crisis during the war, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) across Biafra migrated to Oru-Igbo via her borders in search of sanctuary. Due to the nature of Oru-Igbo's topography, coupled with its assorted water bodies, which supported food supply and security, the area became a haven for the Biafran IDPs. The historical approach was adopted in this study. Primary and secondary sources were utilized. Data were subjected to historical analysis. The IDPs were absorbed and integrated into the existing households of Oru-Igbo which automatically prevented social discriminations, crisis of identity and destitution. The work examined mechanism used in handling the IDPs. The IDPs in Oru-Igbo were productive and did not constituent nuisance to their host community during the war.

Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, University of Ibadan  -  The Experience of Oru-Igbo in Handling the Internally Displaced Persons during the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970

Sunday Joseph Ayodabo
Sunday Joseph Ayodabo  |  Abstract
The thesis seeks to analyse, adopting Carl Jung's theory of the Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, the constructions of hegemonic masculinity in the narratives of six purposively selected children authors, namely: Chinelo Ifezulike, Ekpa Anthonia, Essien Ako, Ifeanyi Ifoegbuna, Ikechukwu Ebonogwu and Richard Osifo. It aims to investigate how the narratives expresses different assumptions and notions of hegemonic masculinity, and how they help children readers to consciously and unconsciously develop a dangerously repressive sense of being desirably masculine. The study hopes to reveal aspects of masculinity construct that need being challenged, deconstructed and adopted towards making more effective interventions against male violence, female oppression and gender imbalance in the society. It thus seeks to contribute to literary scholarship by revealing the utilization of archetypal theoretical tools in negotiating the recognition of masculinity study in children’s literature as germane to addressing the issues of women’s oppression, subjugation and empowerment in Africa.

Doctoral Candidate, Department of English, Elizade University, Nigeria  -  The Construction of Hegemonic Masculinity in Selected Nigerian Children's Narratives

Dina Yerima
Dina Yerima  |  Abstract
This study investigates in a postcolonial manner, the seeming absence of scholarship of a comparative nature on the link between migration and hybridity on three fronts: the regional front, migrant-status of individuals and gender. It does this using three texts: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai and Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid which represent the African, Asian and Caribbean regions, respectively. Using the interpretative-historical design with the postcolonial literary theory, the research explores hybridity’s relationship with migration in the texts to: ascertain the relationship between migration and hybridity and, allow for a comparison of the said relationship between and the effects of both phenomena on characters in different regions based on migrant-status, region and gender difference. Thus, it aims to demonstrate that migration and hybridity are shared experiences of all postcolonial individuals irrespective of region, gender and migrant-status.

Doctoral Candidate, Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka  -  Migration and Hybridity in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss and Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy

Maureen Isioma Chiluwa
Maureen Isioma Chiluwa  |  Abstract
This project focuses on linguistic/discourse analysis of deceptive communication enabled by computer-mediated communications (CMC). CMC include instant messaging, e-mails, chat rooms and text messaging. By their nature, CMCs are fast, conveniet and virtually free; and individuals can send messages anonymously. Hence, the Internet (e.g. websites and emails) have provided dynamic platforms for the perpetration and fostering of deception in the virtual sphere. Some previous researches on Nigerian email/419 fraud have focused on the different forms and linguistic features of Nigerian email financial scams (e.g Heyd, 2008; Chiluwa, 2009; Bloomaerts, 2005). The current study not only examines the linguistic and discourse structures of online deceptive discourses but also analyses the non-linguistic and semiotic modes of digital deceptive communication in the form of email frauds, financial scams including Ponzi schemes. The results will highlight some clues to identity of online fraudsters; analyse persuasive/rhetorical strategies of scammers, and suggest the means of detecting some very difficult scams as well as introduce an interdisciplinary approach to studying online scams .

Doctoral Candidate, Department of English Studies, University of Port Harcourt  -  Digital Deception: A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Online Financial Scams in Nigeria