Facebook Activism in Nigeria: The Digital Photograph and New Histories of the Postcolony


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Fine and Applied Arts


Since the 2010s, Nigerians have used photographs on Facebook to critique their country’s socio-political conditions. My book will explore how this visual culture constitutes a new domain in mobilizations for change and how it offers the possibility of writing Nigeria's post-independence history from the perspective and experience of those on the margins of society. I will begin with the history of analogue photography in Nigeria, to understand how Facebook photo-activism draws on, but also differs from it. Historicising Nigeria’s socio-political tensions, I analyze how digital technology mediates their pictorial representation and the evidentiary framework of their online circulation. Also to be examined are contestations around the online protest and the potentialities and limits of Facebook as postcolonial Nigerian visual archive constituted outside state control. Facebook photo-activism in Nigeria impacts on how political elites interact with the networked citizens, engenders reconfigurations of power and drives actual protests that signal possible revolution.