Chinonye Alma Otuonye
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNew York, Graduate Center, City U. of
Grant numberGr. 10139
Approve DateApril 8, 2021
Project TitleAlma Otuonye, Chinonye (New York, Graduate Center, City U. of) "Beyond Nigeria: Race, Ethnicity and Modernity in Biafran Political Imaginaries"
Since the end of the Nigerian Civil War, claims for Biafra have become commonplace within the Nigerian socio-political landscape. However, the December 2018 protest led by Jewish Biafrans made clear how the nation has and continues to be reimagined. Lining the streets of Umuahia, the second former capital of the defunct state, were various pro-Biafran supporters who walked peacefully down the streets carrying Biafran and Israeli flags while proclaiming in Hebrew, Igbo, and English that Biafra was the way to freedom. These protests are one of many that occur throughout the Southeast at regular intervals as infrastructure continues to decline, unemployment rates increase, and feelings of political marginalization rise. Juxtaposed to their assumption of Nigeria as a failed black state with racist etymological foundations and Islamic understructure, Biafra serves as an ideal black geographic space highlighting “black excellence” and “Judaic modernity”. While one might assume that these diasporic notions of a Jewish self would position Israel as the homeland, their claim to a diasporic Jewish identity they argue cements their indigenous Igbo identity and validates a Biafran nation. Therefore, to understand the ways in which Biafrans are reimagining the nation through a simultaneous diasporic and indigenous identity.