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- New routes to the African diaspora(s : locating 'Naija' identities in transnational cultural productions
- Nwabara, Olaocha Nwadiuto
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
Nigerian American Yvonne Orji–star of HBO Series Insecure–shared her self-defined expressions of her Nigerian Diaspora aka 'Naija' identity at a Breakfast Club online interview. She demonstrated her negotiation of her Nigerian and Black American identity, and in doing so reveals the multiplicity of her Black identity. The Nigerian Diaspora is increasingly producing normalized tropes in global Black popular culture, such as formulations of the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, and...
Show moreNigerian American Yvonne Orji–star of HBO Series Insecure–shared her self-defined expressions of her Nigerian Diaspora aka 'Naija' identity at a Breakfast Club online interview. She demonstrated her negotiation of her Nigerian and Black American identity, and in doing so reveals the multiplicity of her Black identity. The Nigerian Diaspora is increasingly producing normalized tropes in global Black popular culture, such as formulations of the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, and transnational music in the Afrobeat and Naija Mix genres. Cultural productions that come from these and other Nigerian cultural industries are being created and represented by members of the Nigerian "cultural" Diaspora all over the world. These cultural representations are mapped onto cultural artifacts (e.g. film, music, literature, television, food, clothing) are reflected back into diasporic communities when accepted by its members as having meaning and telling stories of their everyday experiences. Works like these are constitutive of a growing cohort and body of cultural productions emerging from the African Diaspora in the post-colonial era. Examples examined in the current dissertation study include the now famous Nigerian Diaspora representations conveyed in cultural productions such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah, rapper Wale's "My Sweetie" and "The God Smile," Yewande Omotoso's Bom Boy, Akin Omotoso's Man on Ground, and Adze Ugah's Jacob's Cross to name a few. This dissertation is situated within the growing scholarly discourse about new African Diasporas through the prism of cultural diasporas. To guide the study theoretically, I draw from African Diaspora theorists such as Kim Butler, Isidore Okpewho, Paul Zeleza, Juan Flores, and Ruth Simms Hamilton as well as from Cultural Studies theorists Stuart Hall and Pierre Bourdieu to examine select Nigerian artists, their productions, and subsequent representations in the Nigerian Diaspora as cultural diasporas. I present these cultural productions of Nigerian diasporas as a way of examining the transformative and transnational identities (i.e. racial, ethnic, cultural) and community formations that are forged in the dialectical relationship between African homelands (Nigeria) and African Diaspora hostlands (the US and South Africa). In this dissertation, I argue that the social construction of the core identity formation of Nigerian Diasporas (Naija) has a purposeful and useful function for Nigeria in the world through its migrants Diaspora hostlands. The study shows the Nigerian Diaspora identity in this regard acknowledges and unifies Nigerians wherever they may be in the world and allows them to asserts an emotional attraction and belonging to the Nigerian homeland. The social construction of 'Naija' is used in this study as prism for interrogating issues facing Nigerian people in their respective diasporas, while also revealing the distinctive cultural life-styles that Nigerian Black immigrants bring and contribute to their hostlands. The research design focuses in on those primary components of the cultural diasporas–the experiences of the cultural producers (interviews and public talks) and the analysis of their cultural productions (literature, film, television, YouTube, music)–in order to extrapolate cultural representations of the Nigerian Diaspora communities in the United States and South Africa. The study aims to use this data to significantly contribute perspectives of how Nigerian Diasporic cultural identities and experiences are self-represented and exerted in global Diasporic communities, specifically in the racially and ethnic diverse nations of the United States and South Africa. Further, the dissertation examines how representations of self and community becomes decolonial tools for defining and asserting complex Black Diasporic identities and cultural formations.