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Social Science and Public Policy

Beyond Ethnographic Objectivity: Indigenous Anthropologists and Problems of Fieldwork Access in Nigeria

November 19, 2019 at 12:00pm2:00pm EST

Eggers Hall, 112

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A Talk by Babajide Ololajulo, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

In this talk, I draw on my experiences conducting fieldwork at “home” in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria to explore concerns that pertain to Nigerian anthropologists carrying out research in their home environments. Traditional anthropologists had in the past invoked the tenet of ethnographic objectivity and other problems of insider research to render the enterprise of ‘anthropology at home’ an inferior brand of the discipline. The notion of the familiar body of the local scholar as devoid of social and economic opportunities remained dominant in research communities, along with the idea that this hinders the fieldwork engagements of indigenous anthropologists. In this talk, I argue instead that the problem of access for the indigenous anthropologist comes with deleterious implications for the decolonization of knowledge produced about Africa.

Babajide Ololajulo is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is a development anthropologist with research interests ranging over politics of identity, heritage and memory, and the political economy of oil exploration in Nigeria. He has published widely on these themes. Dr. Ololajulo is an alumnus of the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars program (UMAPS), a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS-AHP), and a Leventis fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has also received travel grants from UK ESRC and SEPHIS to attend workshops in the United Kingdom, Brazil and Peru. His recent book, Unshared Identity published by the African Humanities Program, employs the practice of posthumous paternity to explore African endogenous ways of being and meaning-making.

This event was published on October 11, 2019.

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