Zainab Mai-Bornu Post Doc Fellowship

Project: Research council


This postdoctoral fellowship builds on my PhD thesis, which critically examined the comparative experiences of the Ogoni non-violent movement and the Ijaw violent movement. It explored the various strategies employed in expressing grievances over oil resources in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. My Doctoral study established that although the Ogoni and the Ijaw share similar lived experiences, they are not fighting a common cause. Rather, they are each fighting context specific battles that are constructed and framed by particular and specific communities. The important discourses embedded in each community's context specific battle were explained within the context of the strategic logic. Scholarship on the Niger Delta tends to conflate the two distinct conflicts into one single movement of opposition and resistance, which undermines the Ogoni and the Ijaw. In contrast, I offer a new context and analysis to how each community constructs conflicts and reacts differently to actions and inactions of the Nigerian state. However, at the same time, my PhD research revealed the almost entirely absent voices of the women who, in most discussions and analyses were referred to continuously in relation to the adoption of nonviolence. Understanding how the perspectives of women have shaped movements in both regions have been overlooked in the literature on resources-based conflicts in the Niger Delta, it is an important area of analysis, and central to the objectives on this fellowship.

This proposed postdoctoral fellowship seeks to enhance my professional development as an early career researcher, allowing me to disseminate my PhD research findings to a wide range of academic and non-academic audiences, build new professional networks, and explore new avenues of research identified in my doctoral project. Although much research has been carried out on resource-based conflict in the Niger Delta, an important observation revealed in my PhD research was that the voices of women are almost entirely absent in most analyses. This fellowship will therefore offer me a rare opportunity to engage with the gendered aspects of my PhD findings in much greater detail.

Using participatory video - an innovative methodology increasingly used in community development and anthropological research, the proposed fellowship will enable women involved in my study to participate in the research process, convey their perceptions and experiences of resource-based conflict. The findings should have important policy implications, and will stimulate public engagement and debate in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, which will be an important objective of the fellowship. In the process of exploring this new research, the fellowship will provide the ideal opportunity to acquire new research skills, develop a publication profile, identify new research opportunities and develop new proposals for continuing work, and build networks to develop impact opportunities and inform as well as support my career development.
Effective start/end date1/10/1830/09/19