Negotiating Identity and Gender Realities in the Performance of the Awigiri Music of the Ijo (Ijaw, Izon) of Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


English and Literary Studies


Humanities scholars, especially those in music and literary studies have paid a great deal of attention to highlife and its socio-cultural variants. However, in spite of the impressive body of existing literature on highlife, little is known of awigiri, the variant of highlife among the Ijo (Ijaw, Izon) of Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta. Therefore, this research examines awigiri by arguing that it is a site for the negotiation of identity and the representation of gender realities. Data for this interdisciplinary research will be gathered from unstructured interviews of selected awigiri performers and participant observation of live awigiri performances using audio/visual means. Data shall further be gathered from selected audio recordings of awigiri. The data will be interrogated using the theories of performance and feminism. The research will add to the discourse on difference in forms of highlife and other forms of popular music. Beyond that, humanities scholars will understand how music performers negotiate issues of identity and gender realities both in live performances and the lyrics of their music.