Sunday, December 4, 2016

The 6th Annual International Igbo Conference
Theme: Legacies of Biafra: Reflections on the Nigeria-Biafra War 50 years on
SOAS, University of London, April 21-22, 2017

Call for Papers

The Annual Igbo Conference has carved out a unique space, serving as a bridge between the community and academia. It is held at SOAS, University of London in association with the Centre of African Studies.

The ‘Legacies of Biafra’ conference seeks to explore the on-going impact of the war locally and globally, considering how the first civil war in independent Africa has influenced the perception of the continent internationally as well as its impact on the political and social structures within Nigeria. As 2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of war, this conference will provide a timely reflection on the war as a watershed moment in contemporary African history.

The Nigeria-Biafra war sparked strong reactions from around the world. British participation in the war was informed by the desire to maintain the colonial entity that they had created, as Biafra’s declaration of independence presented a challenge to the legitimacy of African countries created during the colonial era. Global media coverage presented the first images of children starving in Africa, which became the dominant visual representation of the continent in the international press, and one of the lasting impacts of the war.

The conference will explore the consequences of the war, which include changes to Nigeria’s social and political structures, approaches to intervention in conflict zones and developments in humanitarian assistance. It will also explore trauma, internal displacement and the psychology of conflict resolution.

We are particularly interested in papers that engage with the following themes:
  • Christopher Okigbo and his Generation: Biafra’s Loss of Life and Talent
  • Women and Biafra: Women’s Contributions during the War and the Post-War Recovery Period
  • The War and its Key Actors
  • Trauma, Memory and Re-Membering
  • Biafra and the World
  • In the Wake of Biafra: Developments in Humanitarian Assistance
  • Biafra’s Child Refugees in West and Central Africa
  • Physical and Spiritual Displacement and the War
  • Post-War Religiosity and Narratives of Survival
  • The Ahiara Declaration and its Pan-African Vision
  • Britain and Biafra
  • Post-War Cultural Nationalism and the Shifting Margins of Identity

Organiser: Igbo Conference in association with Centre of African Studies, SOAS, University of London

The conference will be held in the Brunei Gallery Building, SOAS, University of London, April 21- 22, 2017.

Please send abstracts in an attached word file, and please do not use all capital letters when writing. Participants who require a British visa are encouraged to submit their abstracts as soon as possible. Please email abstracts of up to 300 words including the paper title, your name, current position, institutional affiliation (where applicable), email address and phone number to and no later than 31st December 2016.
Presenters will be invited to submit expanded versions of their papers to be considered for publication in an edited book.

Participants are responsible for sourcing their own funding for travel, accommodation and conference fees. For information on the Igbo Conference, please visit and

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Obiora Udechukwu: Line, Image, Text

I hear that this book is coming out before the year runs out. Waiting to see it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

On November 28, I will welcome two artist-scholars, Okechukwu Nwafor (Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria) and Evassy Tumusiime (Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda) to Princeton for a three-day residency as African Studies Association/ American Council for Learned Societies Presidential Fellows. On the 30th, they will be joined by Nomusa Mahkubu (University of Cape Town) for a mini-symposium on Art and Visual Cultures in Africa Today, before they all depart to Washington DC, to participate in the annual conference of the ASA. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fellowship opportunity at Princeton

This is a fantastic fellowship opportunity for international scholars. If you know someone who might be interested, please send this across. I personally hope that colleagues working in Africa will be keen to apply.

The 2017-18 program topic is “The Culture and Politics of Resentment.” The six Fung Global Fellows are expected to be in residence at PIIRS for one academic year and to participate in the program’s seminars and intellectual life of the university. Within the limits of its resources, the program provides a salary that equals the base salary at a fellow’s home institution. Should a home institution salary be significantly below the norm, it may be adjusted upward. The program will also cover the most economical roundtrip travel for a fellow, spouse or domestic partner and children from his or her home institution, as well as visa fees. Further, fellows receive a research account, an office, access to a desktop computer and are eligible for health insurance and other benefits through the university plan. The program will assist in finding housing through the university housing office and private landlords.We invite applications from scholars whose work addresses this topic in any historical period or region of the world and from any disciplinary background in the humanities and social sciences. Applications are due on November 21, 2016 (11:59 p.m. EST) and must be submitted through the online application portal


1. Eligible are scholars in the social sciences and humanities who received their Ph.D. (or the equivalent of an Anglo-American Ph.D.) within 10 years of the proposed start date of the fellowship; for the 2017-18 program that is no earlier than September 1, 2007. The receipt of the Ph.D. is determined by the date on which all requirements for the degree at the applicant’s home institution, including the defense and filing of the dissertation, were fulfilled.
2. Applicants must hold a position outside the United States of America at the time of application, to which they are expected to return at the conclusion of the fellowship.
3. Fellowships will be awarded to candidates who have already demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement and exhibit unusual intellectual promise but are still at the beginning of their careers. Criteria for the fellowship include the strength of the candidate’s research projects, the relationship of those projects to the program’s theme, the candidate’s previous scholarly work, the candidate’s ability to contribute to the intellectual life and intellectual exchange of the program, and the candidate’s work experience outside the United States. The selection committee is looking to establish a cohort of fellows whose work represents diverse analytical approaches and disciplinary backgrounds and addresses a wide variety of places.
4. U.S. citizens and non-citizens, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law are eligible to apply.
5. Fellows must be in residence in Princeton during the academic year of their fellowship (September 1 - June 30) so that they can interact with one another and participate actively in the program’s seminars and other events on campus. Fellows are also expected to present their ongoing projects in seminars organized by the program. 
Princeton University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.   

Application Requirements

The following items will need to be submitted by the applicant, in English:
  • Completed online application form
  • Cover letter (1.5 pages maximum)
  • Curriculum Vitae / Bibliography (may be submitted as one document)
  • Research proposal (maximum of 3 pages, single spaced)
  • One writing sample (article or book chapter, maximum of 50 pages)
  • An official letter from the applicant’s employer affirming that, should the fellowship be awarded, the applicant would be permitted to accept it and to spend the academic year 2017-2018 at Princeton University (on the application portal, upload this document as “Other 1”) 
In addition, three (3) confidential letters of recommendation, in English, will need to be uploaded directly by the referees to the application portal on or before the November 1 application deadline:
  • Letters are best submitted in PDF format; electronic letterhead and signature preferred, or a signed, scanned letter on letterhead.
  • Letters may be addressed to the Search Committee, Fung Global Fellows Program.
  • It is not necessary to mail a hard copy of the letter. However, if a referee is unable to submit the letter electronically, sending it by mail, postmarked by November 21, 2016, will be acceptable. Send to Fung Global Fellows Program, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Aaron Burr Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544.
 Inquiries about the program and the application process may be directed to or ++1-609-258-2453.

Monday, October 31, 2016

UPenn and Yale African Art History jobs

As if the news about the African Art History job announcement by the Department of History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, the Ivy League university based in Philadelphia is not big enough, Yale University's History of Art Department has just announced that it is also in the market for a "replacement"--if you could ever imagine a junior scholar replacing that monument called Robert Farris Thompson. I cannot remember the last time two Ivy League universities are searching for an African art historian at the same time. I am watching to see they hire; thankfully, there are a couple of really smart young scholars out there! 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Egyptian Surrealism Exhibition in Cairo

Palace of Arts, Cairo

The historic exhibition, When Art Becomes Liberty: The Egyptian Surrealists (1938-1965), organized by Salah M. Hassan and Hoor Al-Qasimi at the Palace of Arts, Cairo closes in about week, and I count myself fortunate to have been able to see it. I shall write more about this exhibition, which because of the depth of research and amazing scale of it, deserves fuller comment (please, please, Salah and Hoor, make sure the accompanying book comes out soon!). But as far as exhibitions go, this is a milestone for the African continent. Congratulations Salah and Hoor, and your curatorial team at the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and the American University in Cairo. Here are a few images from the installation.
Exhibition panel

Installation view with Carlo Desidero's Satan Around the World, n. d. (left)

Photographic self-portraits by the enigmatic Van Leo

Archival documents by Art and Liberty Group

Hadi El-Ghazzar, Man and Cat, 1952

Kamal Youssef, Hoda, 1942

Installation view