St Anne's College
Thesis: ‘Taking Africa to the world’: Celebrity culture as a vehicle for collective aspirations (working title)
Research: My research looks at the boom of the Nigerian music industry that has dominated African popular culture since the mid-2000s, with a focus on its moral economy. In particular, I will examine how a neoliberal discourse of opportunity and value creation intersects with efforts to both transform one’s circumstances and contribute to changing Nigeria’s—and Africa’s—‘place-in-the-world’. I am interested in the interplay of individual, corporate, and collective aspirations in attempts to overcome victimising narratives via individuated success stories. The research will explore notions of agency, hope, and performativity in relation to neoliberal practices of entrepreneurship and self-branding. To the extent that the commercial development of Nigerian music is made possible by digital and financial infrastructure supplied in large part by Chinese private companies, the research will also shed light on China-Africa relations from an ethnographic perspective. Breaking away from scholarship grounded on cultural imperialism theories, I intend to expand the discussion on the commodification of culture from the issue of authenticity and reification to questions of agency and meaning making.
Research interests: anthropology of capitalism; anthropology of globalisation; digital ethnography; media; hope and future-making; China-Africa relations.