Jaana Serres

jaana serres


DPhil Student

St Anne's College

Thesis: ‘Taking Africa to the world’: Celebrity culture as a vehicle for collective aspirations (working title)

Jaana's research explores how entrepreneurship of the self is invested with moral value in environments with limited economic opportunity and representation challenges. She is interested in celebrity culture as both an expression and shaping force of such values. Through an ethnography of the Lagos music industry (Nigeria), she explores how consumerism, self-branding, and a neoliberal discourse of opportunity and value creation intersect with postcolonial efforts to both transform one’s circumstances and contribute to changing Nigeria’s—and Africa’s—‘place-in-the-world’. 

As entertainment and self-branding are increasingly central to the global economy—through their nexus to corporate advertising—Jaana argues that Nigerian music can inform our understanding of global capitalism through the convergence it brings between business models and ideologies of identity, consumption, and progress. The rapidity and creativity with which Nigerian millennials have seized upon the possibilities of the new economy and invested it with collective aspirations indeed destabilizes the dynamics of neoliberal globalization commonly assumed by anthropologists. 

Jaana is the Ioma Evans-Pritchard scholar in the social anthropology of Africa. Her research is also generously funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, and the Philip Bagby and Godfrey Lienhard funds. Prior to her PhD, Jaana graduated as Harlan Fiske Stone scholar from Columbia Law School. She practiced law in New York, Paris, and London and conducted research at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi

Research interests: capitalism; media, globalization; digital ethnography; hope and future-making; postcolonial studies.