Obituary Photographs and the Imagination of Visual Modernities in Eastern Nigeria


African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellowships


Department of Fine and Applied Arts.


Funerals in South Eastern Nigeria have become increasingly visible practices. An important aspect of this visibility lies in photographs. In the past ten years obituary posters have transited from A 4 or A 2 sized pictures to life size digital prints. Not only that, the style of advertising the posters have also changed from postings on the walls to free standing life sized photographs mounted on strategic sites at the deceased towns or villages. My research examines these changes in the Igbo region of Eastern Nigeria. I argue that the emergence of new kinds of visual technologies has affected the Igbo quest for visibility in funerals. I show that in Igbo funerals, new forms of obituary photographs help individuals to articulate alternative visual imaginations of modernity. These visual imaginations exude a popular image of symbolic wealth.