Biafran mediations: artistic legacies of the Nigeria-Biafra war

Lecznar, Matthew Justin (2020) Biafran mediations: artistic legacies of the Nigeria-Biafra war. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (2MB)
[img] PDF (EMBARGOED permanently - Copyrighted images) - Published Version
Restricted to SRO admin only

Download (892kB)


This thesis explores artistic legacies of the Nigeria-Biafra war. Since the end of the internecine conflict, a diverse range of artists working in and across a variety of forms have creatively mediated the struggle and its aftermath. Despite this cultural outpouring, the history of Biafra remains highly contested in Nigeria, and it is not extensively commemorated or taught in the country. The scholarship around the conflict’s legacies has also been restrictive, focusing predominantly on literary responses and enforcing the idea that Biafra represents a traumatic void in Nigeria’s cultural history. This thesis counters these tendencies by tracing the creative experiments and subversive politics that have defined Biafra’s multimedia artistic heritage. I argue that the war’s artistic mediation has reimagined it as a space where such complex issues can be articulated and reappraised.

In the introduction, I lay out the project’s historical and theoretical parameters, framing key debates around Biafra’s legacies and exploring the mediations of artists such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ben Enwonwu. The first chapter compares three creative responses to the conflict – a photographic narrative by Peter Obe, a play by Catherine Acholonu and a novel by Ken Saro-Wiwa – arguing that these diverse narratives ‘formfool’ Biafra, breaking the political and aesthetic frames that have delimited the war’s reception. In the second chapter, I consider the mixed media practices of members of the Nsukka group, drawing connections between their experiences of exile and their multimedia navigations of the conflict. The third chapter addresses the queer dynamic that runs through the writings of Chinelo Okparanta and Ogali A. Ogali and the photographs of Rotimi Fani-Kayode, which I argue offer subversive visions of the war’s significance. The conclusion explores the speculative potential of Biafra, affirming that processes of obscure speculation and mythic mediation have been central in promulgating its artistic legacies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: D History > DT History of Africa > DT0470 West Africa. West Coast > DT0491 West Africa > DT0515 Nigeria > DT0515.53 History > DT0515.834 By period. 1966-1975. Gowon administration > DT0515.836 1967-1970. Civil War
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2020 12:24
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update