Encounters in Nigeria

Tuesday, 14th of July 2015
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Venue: Drapper’s Hall

IFRA-Nigeria and the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, will welcome Dr Spiesse-Fourchard, Dr Leslie James and Professor Brian Larkin to a Distinguished Personality Lecture entitled “Encounters in Nigeria”.

This title derives from the fact the all the communications are addressing more or less directly the issue of Encounter: Encounter between local and global art market, encounter between Nigerian and Caribbean newspapers, encounter between Islam and Christianity.

The general public is cordially invited. For your information, the abstracts and the bio of our distinguished guest follow.

Art Markets in Lagos (Early 21st century)


Despite a buoyant activity for decades, the Nigerian art market’s visibility on the international artistic scene is shallow. Though some individuals managed to gain international recognition, most of artists have not and have had to resort to alternative strategies to promote themselves.

This presentation leans on an important corpus of interviews with Nigerian Art actors and examines the various strategies they use to approach local, national and/or international art markets. In so doing, Nigerian artists are mobilizing professional training, artistic production, social capital, interpersonal skills, geographical origin, and their economic situation. These parameters determine artists’ trajectories and their ability to gain international recognition on the global art market.


Emmanuelle Spiesse is a doctor in art history, associated with the LAM of SciencePo Bordeaux, and associated lecturer at the university of Bordeaux. She lived in Nigeria for three years during which she interviewed more than one hundred actors in the art world. She has published about Art Galeries in Lagos (in Les Lieux de Sociabilités en Afrique, 2009). In 2014, as a member of the cultural committee of Reaf, (3rd International Conference of African Studies in France), she organized the exhibition Soccer Worlds by the Nigerian photographer Andrew Esiebo (Arc en Rêve in June, 2014). Her research focuses on the link between artistic production and socioeconomic, political context.

Trans-Atlantic Passages: journalistic technique and the black international in Nigerian and Caribbean newspapers, 1937-1950


The growth of Nigerian newspapers in the 1930s and 1940s paralleled similar developments in the West Indies. Indeed, these newspapers were often in dialogue. By analysing the journalistic tools used by fledgling newspapers in British West Africa and the West Indies, this paper explores the construction of a transnational ’media agora’ among Africans and those of African descent. The techniques of placement on the page, of textual borrowing, and the nodes through which information moved imbued the newspaper’s content with multiple meanings. And this, in turn, fostered the kinds of collective and collaborative communities that connected Africa and the African diaspora.


Dr Leslie James is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Birmingham, Department of African Studies and Anthropology. Prior to this she was a Lecturer in World History at the University of Cambridge. Her work focuses on the political and intellectual history of anti-imperialism in Britain and its empire and on the history of decolonization in Africa and the Caribbean. Her publications include George Padmore and Decolonization from Below (Palgrave, 2015) and an edited volume with Elisabeth Leake, Decolonization and the Cold War (Bloomsbury, 2015).

Religions entangled? Islam, Christianity and the Form of Religious Movements


The analysis of religious movements in Nigeria has been split. Those in the south have focussed on Christianity, particularly the rise of Pentecostal churches, and those in the north on reform Islamic movements. Yet Nigeria is one country and constitutes a broad religious ecology made up of a range of different religious elements that are at times deeply antagonistic to each other but also caught up in mutual entanglements. Instead of presuming the opposition of Islam and Christianity this talk looks at their interactions and the ways in which they are often deeply engaged with each other at the level of everyday practice.


Brian Larkin is the author of Signal and Noise: Infrastructure, Media and Urban Culture in Nigeria, (Duke, 2008) and the co-editor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain (California, 2000). His research examines media technologies in Nigeria and he has written on topics such as media and urban life, Nollywood, religion and media, the circulation of culture (Indian films), piracy and media infrastructures. His current work examines the interaction between media and religious practice and he is completing the manuscript, Secular Machines: Media and the Materiality of Islamic Revival in Nigeria.

He is the Tow Associate Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College, Columbia University and an affiliate of the Institute for African Studies, Columbia University. He is also an Associate Member of the Bayreuth International School in African Studies (BIGSAS).

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