Call For Papers
“Nollywood: A National Cinema?” An International Workshop
Workshop dates: July 7-10, 2010
Venue: Kwara Hotel/Kwara State University, Malete, Ilorin, Nigeria
Inevitably, questions asked about the social and cultural veracity of the art of Nollywood coalesce into one grand probe, which seeks to interrogate Nollywood as a trustworthy machine for the production of culture in contemporary Nigeria. Indeed, some critics have argued that the popularity that Nollywood has engendered in the last ten years in Europe and America may well be explained in term of its re-invention of the image of the noble savage. Others disagree with this reading of the global reception of Nollywood. Constructed as questions around “cultural authenticity” in which echoes of the Kwame Nkrumah vision of pan-Africanism is all too visible, and as a site that instigates the “rough side of us,” critics have taken Nollywood apart, claiming that what it produces as culture is, to put it mildly, “false culture.” The anxieties which this argument generates can be put in this way: if Nollywood is so ubiquitous in the global marketplace of cultural commodities, there is the need to discipline it so that it does not mis-represent “us” as “nation.” Its sloppy narrative regimes must be disciplined; and its uncritical and superficial re-production of culture must be questioned, if not disciplined. Often read as the producer of “false culture,” anxieties concerning the ways that Nollywood narrates “our nation” form the bedrock of the discourses that negate Nollywood as a culture machine. While this mode of interrogation is not new-Emmanuel Obiechina makes a similar observation in his brilliant and groundbreaking study of the Onitsha Market pamphlet (Onitsha Market, Cambridge University Press, 1971)-Nollywood gives contemporary cultural mediators who make these claims even better reasons to doubt. However, we note that nowhere in these arguments that Nollywood has spurned in the last ten years is there a careful and sustained analysis of the industry as a method of articulating popular sentiments for popular consumption. Nollywood is narratively eclectic. It is linguistically diverse and accessible. Its mode of inquiry is quotidian and it critical frame of reference is unsophisticated. In this cultural practice, there is no pretence to any intellectual engagement with the profilmic world. The texts of Nollywood films are easily recognized because they come from and are built around rumors from the streets of Nigerian cities where they fester, grow, and are transformed yet again into Nollywood films. Thrown back into the streets, these video stories are reconstituted and reinterpreted in the streets yet again and then re-made into Nollywood films so that what is initially a rumor of the inevitable death of the rich man whose source of wealth is to say the least dubious is continuously reconstituted as stories and discourses of Nollywood films and of the streets. Evidence is beginning to emerge to the effect that many countries in Africa and in the African diaspora are beginning to look to Nollywood to grow their local film industries. The sum total of the anxieties expressed by these cultural mediators comes from the unique qualities of Nollywood as popular art.
This workshop interrogates the intersection between the nation as a narrative entity and the uses of Nollywood as agent of this act of narrativity. Among other concerns, this workshop asks the central question: is Nollywood a national cinema?” If so, what nation does it narrate? How does it make or re-mark itself as a narrative machine? Are the un-manned but eloquently articulated sites of women in this filmmaking tradition “nationalistic” in any way? How do these films read the nation as an entity? Papers are invited from presenters and contributors on these and other topics that are related to the main theme of this workshop, and must reach the organizers on or before June 15, 2010. Contributors are required to send e-copies of their abstracts to the guest-convener at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Selected and refereed papers will be published in two books to be co-edited by Abiola Irele, Awam Amkpa, Onookome Okome and Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah. Confirm guest speakers include Prof. John McCall, University of Illinois; Professor Jon Haynes, Long Island University, New York; Mr. Afolabi Adesanyan (NFC), Mr. Emeka Mba (NFVCB); Barclays Oyakoroma(NICO);Prof. Manthia Diawara, NYU, New York, and Professor Jane Bryce, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados.
Interested participants must also pre-register for the workshop no later than June 15, 2010. Registration fees may be wired/transferred to KwaSU workshops/conferences accounts- FinBank, Ilorin, Nigeria-KwaSU Conferences/workshops current account: 120430000323901; domiciliary account number—120440000006502. International participants: US$120, local participants, N10,000.