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Nigerian Academic Nduka Otiono Appointed Director Of Canada’s Carleton University Institute Of African Studies

Nduka Otiono, a Nigerian-Canadian academic and former journalist at The Guardian, has been appointed the next Director of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies.

The appointment takes effect on July 1, 2022, and is for a three-year term.

Pauline Rankin, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Carleton University, in a statement, described Otiono as “an Associate Professor in the Institute of African Studies whose work spans creative writing, cultural studies, oral performance and literature in Africa, and postcolonial studies.”

“His recent publications include the co-edited volume of essays, Polyvocal Bob Dylan: Music, Performance, Literature (Palgrave Macmillan 2019) and DisPlace: The Poetry of Nduka Otiono (Wilfrid Laurier University Press 2021),” she said.

Reacting to the appointment, Otiono said: “I humbly embrace this appointment and call to service as the new Director of our beloved Institute of African Studies at Carleton University, Canada’s foremost Institute of African Studies.

“When I joined this unit as the first full-time faculty member on tenure track in 2014, I had no idea that within 7 years, I would be entrusted with its leadership as the first Director not appointed from outside of the institute.

“Recognizing that this is our home department and the intellectual and cultural hub for the study of Africa in Canada is essential to my vision for the Institute. I count on our great local and international community and partners for the necessary cooperation and support to advance the Institute in its second decade of existence–having been founded in 2009.

“I thank the hiring committee and the University administration for choosing me to lead our great Institute at this critical juncture in its history. I thank my colleagues and our passionate students whose confidence in my work continue to inspire me to excel.

“I would also like to acknowledge the endless love from my family without which this Canadian journey would have been a lonesome walk on the snow. Finally, as we say as people of faith and in Naija lingo, To God be the glory.”

Otiono was first appointed Assistant Professor at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, in 2014, becoming the first appointee of what was then the university’s newfound Institute of African Studies.

“We at the Institute of African Studies and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Public Affairs are delighted that Dr. Nduka Otiono will be Assistant Professor at Carleton University commencing 1st July 2014,” Blair Rutherford, a professor and founding Director of Carleton’s Institute of African Studies, said at the time.

Rutherford had expressed confidence that the then holder of the prestigious two-year Canadian government-sponsored Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship would “bolster the institute with his vast wealth of knowledge and experience in the fields of African literature, journalism, arts and culture, as well as his passion for exciting and teaching students, colleagues and broader publics about the histories, complexities, and politics shaping these domains in Africa and beyond”.

“Otiono’s ability to straddle these diverse fields makes him uniquely positioned to complement the Africanist strengths in both faculties to which Carleton’s Institute of African Studies belong,” he had said.

“His expertise in African literature, oral culture and what he suggestively calls ‘street stories’ complement the range of Africanist expertise we have in the arts and social sciences — notably the prestigious insights provided by Professor Pius Adesanmi — while Dr. Otiono’s lengthy and successful career in journalism in Nigeria adds his vast knowledge to our already strong expertise in public affairs, including Professor Allan Thompson who has made Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication a leading centre focusing on African journalism in Canada.”

Since leaving Nigeria in 2006, Nduka has obtained a Ph.D. in English from the University of Alberta, winning prestigious awards such as F.S Chia Fellowship, Andrew Stewart Memorial Graduate Prize, and the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship — and earning nomination for the Governor General’s Gold Medal for academic distinction.

In 2011, he held a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University, where he was also appointed Visiting Assistant Professor, but the Banting Fellowship took him back to Canada.

A fellow of the William Joiner Centre for War and Social Consequences, University of Massachusetts, Boston, his interdisciplinary research focuses on ‘street stories’ or popular urban narratives in postcolonial Africa, and how they travel across multiple cultural formations including oral literature, the news media, film, popular music, and social media.

Also a writer, he is the author of The Night Hides with a Knife (short stories), which won the ANA/Spectrum Prize; Voices in the Rainbow (poems), shortlisted for the ANA/Cadbury Poetry Prize; and Love in a Time of Nightmares (poems), for which he was awarded the James Patrick Folinsbee Memorial Scholarship in Creative Writing. He has co-edited We-Men: An Anthology of Men Writing on Women (1998), and Camouflage: Best of Contemporary Writing from Nigeria (2006).

Otiono holds Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in English from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, (1987) and an MA in English from the same university (1990). he also holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Alberta, Canada (2011).

He was an accomplished journalist in his days in Nigeria, working for a number of high-flying newspapers, including The Guardian.

First published in FIJ Nigeria,

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