Jaana Serres

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Oxford, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9965

Approve Date

October 30, 2019

Project Title

Serres, Jaana (Oxford U.) "'Taking Africa to the world’: Celebrity culture as a vehicle for collective aspirations"

Since the mid-2000s African popular culture has been dominated by a digital music boom centred in Lagos, Nigeria. The rise of Nigerian superstars and their international recognition has fuelled the dynamic of a new form of pan-Africanism founded on neoliberal aspirations. This research will explore how technological and economic forces have intersected with the yearning of a generation of African youth to assert global membership, by focusing on those who control the configuration of media, technology, and labor shaping Nigerian commercial music. The research will examine the discourse of Lagos music entrepreneurs and corporate managers that postulates the enterprising, branded, and commodified self as a force that can performatively transform its circumstances and contribute to changing Nigeria’s—and Africa’s—‘place-in-the-world’. By tracing and critically analyzing the socio-economic networks that underpin this emerging form, the research aims at exploring the complex intersection of a cosmopolitan and tech-savvy generation of African youth, transnational capital, and popular art in processes of future-making, identity formation, and wealth distribution. The research will ask how the imaginative, affective and discursive dimensions of the symbolic inclusion of ‘Africa’ on the world stage fit within the dichotomy between ‘powerless’ local entrepreneurs and ‘hegemonic’ transnational corporations.