Stanley Jachike Onyemechalu

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Cambridge, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10620

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Onyemechalu, Stanley (Cambridge, U. of) "Heritage and the legacies of violent conflict: The Biafra war (1967-1970) and present-day Igboland, Nigeria."

The bulk of anthropological literature on the conflict-heritage debate centre more around the destructive impacts of conflict on tangible heritage (archaeological sites, monuments, etc.) than on intangible heritage (music, food, etc.). Woefully little has been done to understand how heritage can be used to ‘repair’ the legacies of conflict, or the ‘regenerative’ impacts of conflict on heritage. ‘Regenerative’ impacts refer to how conflict and its legacies cause the creation/reinforcement of heritage, or become heritage themselves. Combining extensive ethnographic research (including semi-structured interviews & focus-groups), archival/historical research and field survey, my project advances the foregoing anthropological debates by exploring the complex intersection of cultural heritage and the legacies of violent conflicts in the context of the Nigeria-Biafra war (1967-1970) in present-day Igboland, south-eastern Nigeria. This project will explore: the legacies of the war and the ‘memory battles’ in post-war Igboland; the ‘(re)generative’ (in addition to the well-documented destructive) impact of the war on the Igbo cultural heritage; and how the Igbo use(d) their heritage to ‘repair’ the destructive legacies of the war. This research broadens the anthropological literature on conflict-heritage and provides evidence for the potentials of heritage in (post-)conflict interventions in affected communities, including identity (re)formation, memorialisation, resilience/survival and peacebuilding.