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"

JANNA SERRES, then a graduate student at Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom, received funding in October 2019 to aid research on ”Taking Africa to the World:’ Celebrity Culture as a Vehicle for Collective Aspirations,’ supervised by Dr. David Pratten. Entertainment and self-fashioning are increasingly central to the global economy through their nexus to corporate advertising. Across the world, platform capitalism is fueled by communities with limited opportunity and representation challenges actively seizing upon the possibilities offered by the new economy, investing it with collective aspirations that destabilize the commonly assumed dynamics of neoliberal globalization. Nigerian artists in particular have taken the global pop scene by storm through the savvy use of digital tools, to the celebratory cheers of ‘#AfricaToTheWorld’ from youths across the continent and the diaspora. This project (renamed ‘#AfricaToTheWorld: The Nigerian Music Industry as a Vehicle for Collective Aspirations and Postcolonial Identity in the Age of Platform Capitalism’) explores processes of world-making, identity formation, and wealth distribution as the future of Nigerian participation in the global economy is negotiated by young entertainment entrepreneurs in the post-oil era. The ethnography was conducted mainly in Lagos, the economic and cultural capital of Nigeria, but also in Dubai, a major hub for the Nigerian music industry, in corporate offices in Paris, and across Nigeria. Preliminary results indicate that the adoption of entrepreneurial subjectivities among Nigerian music professionals should be understood in the continuity of other emancipatory ideologies. Commercially successful artists and music executives, as they move beyond social and geographic limitations, propose a moral and political project of gaining access to individual and African sovereignty through a work on the self that resonates with widely shared postcolonial aspirations.