TRANSATLANTIC DISBELONGINGS: LOCATING LIBERATORY WORLDMAKING PRACTICES IN NIGERIAN DIASPORIC WOMEN’S ART
Sies, Mary Cobin
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“Transatlantic Disbelongings: Locating Liberatory Worldmaking Practices in Nigerian Diasporic Women’s Art” examines how women artists of the Nigerian diaspora use contemporary visual art, performance, film, and literature to contest and redefine their familial, cultural, and national belonging in Nigeria and its diasporas. Foregrounding the work of five women artists: Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Zina Saro-Wiwa, ruby onyinyechi amanze, and Nnedi Okorafor, who straddle multiple geographies, identities, and allegiances, this project analyzes how they resist popular understandings of what has been deemed proper conduct for women in Nigeria and its diaspora—a process I call “disbelonging.” My use of disbelonging refers to the process by which female diasporic artists embrace and employ anti-respectability and queerness to recode, remix, and resist oppressive colonial legacies surrounding gender, sexuality, and national belonging in a Nigerian context. Their works depict visual and literary landscapes where women move freely through time and space, engage playfully with one another, prioritize their own desires, and unapologetically embody contradiction and taboo. This dissertation argues that their artmaking is worldmaking, which creates opportunities to reconfigure understandings of transnational flows and unsettles oppressive conceptualizations of community and family to embrace a range of affiliational tensions.