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"
CHINONYE ALMA OTUONYE, then a graduate student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in April 2021 to aid research on “Beyond Nigeria: Race, Ethnicity and Modernity in Biafran Political Imaginaries,” supervised by Dr. Gary Wilder. During the Nigerian Civil War, the creation of a Biafra as a separatist state in the southeast signified that the people were willing to establish a new territorial and political reality for themselves in order to achieve freedom. Though the secessionist state would fail, 50 years later pro-Biafra sentiment is still strong. IPOB (Indigenous Peoples of Biafra), as a major voice within the pro-Biafra movement, have both expanded their territorial claim and reformulated their cause through strong identification with a Jewish heritage linking themselves politically to Israel and an Igbo ethnic affiliation. In centralizing the lives of Jewish Biafrans in the wake of the Nigerian Civil War, this project explores the racialized narratives around a Jewish, Igbo, and Black identity in the claims to territorial sovereignty by IPOB members and other self-identified Jewish Biafrans. In studying the simultaneous diasporic and indigenous subjectivities, that roots and unroots peoples to land, this project examines the paradoxical place that Jewish Biafrans take up in their claim for territorial sovereignty that simultaneously undoes and redoes colonial dispossession in Nigeria’s southeastern region. Through a combination of archival, ethnographic, and digital ethnographic at two former Biafran capitals (Enugu and Umuahia), this project seeks to understand the ways in which a Jewish Biafran identity recasts understandings of sovereignty and territorial productions.