Paul Ugor


Paul Ugor.

PhD, Alberta
MA, Ibadan
BA, Calabar

Extension: 40501


I grew up in Obudu, a small town in Cross Rivers State in Southeastern Nigeria and completed my B.A. (Theatre Studies) at the University of Calabar in 1996 and an MA in Theatre and Film at the University Ibadan in 2001. I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Alberta in 2009, specializing in African and Postcolonial/World Literatures. My main areas of research and publishing are modern African literature and film, Nollywood cinema, African youth cultures, and Black popular culture. Currently, I am working on a monograph focusing on the screen media output of Nigeria’s leading film director and TV producer, Femi Odugbemi. I am also working on two edited volumes on the Postcolonial Bildungsroman (with Arnab Roy of Florida Gulf Coast University) and Narratives of Transitional Justice in World Literatures (With Bonny Ibhawoh of McMaster University). My research interests in general are concerned with new social processes in global politics, economy, information and communication technologies, cultural/textual representations, and everyday life, and the new social responses which these activities elicit from the public domain, especially from marginalized groups like racial minorities in the global north, youth, women, and disenfranchised subjects in postcolonial settings.

Selected publications


Nollywood: Popular Culture and New Narratives of Marginalized Youth in Nigeria. Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, (September 2016).

Edited Books and Journal Special Issues

Youth and Popular Culture in Africa: Media, Music and Politics. New York: African Studies Series, University of Rochester Press (November, 2021).

(With Lord Mawuko-Yevugah). African Youth Cultures in the Age of Globalization: Challenges, Agency and Resistance. Surrey, UK: Routledge, 2017/Ashgate 2015.

Contemporary Youth Cultures in Africa. Special Issue of Postcolonial Text. Vol. 8, No 3&4, 2013 [Published March 31st 2014).

(Poyntz, Stuart and Jacqueline Kennelly). Youth, Cultural Politics and New Social Spaces in an Era of Globalization. Special Issue of Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies 31:4, (September 2009).

Selected Book Chapters

“Imaginaries of Truth and Reconciliation: Nation and Narration in Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull.” Truth Commissions and Statebuilding. Eds. Bonny, Ibhawoh, Jasper Ayelazuno & Sylvia Bawa. University of McGill Press (Forthcoming, Fall, 2023).

“The Politics of Pleasure in Contemporary Nigerian Afrobeats Music.” Youth and Popular Culture in Africa: Media, Music and Politics. New York: University of Rochester Press (September 2021).

“Photography, Public Advocacy and Social Justice Activism: Lincoln Clarkes’ Heroines.” Heroines Revisited: Lincoln Clarkes. Vancouver: Anvil Press (2021).  

Et all. “Global South Youth Studies, Its Forms and Differences among the South, and between the North and South.” The Oxford Handbook of Global South Youth Studies. Eds. Sharlene Swartz, Adam Cooper, Clarence M. Batan, and Laura Kropff Causa. Oxford University Press, March 2021.

“Cosmopolitanism from Below: Oil Capitalism, Informality and Citizenship in Nigeria.” Negative Cosmopolitanism: Abjection, Power, Bio-politics. Eds., Eddy Kent and Terri Tomsky. Montreal: McGill-Queen's UP (November 2017). 

“Armed Insurgency, Young Women and the Feminization of Resistance in the Niger Delta.” A Phenomenology of Youth Cultures: Meaning and Retrieval in an Era of Globalization. Eds. Jacqueline Kennelly & Stuart Poyntz. New York: Routledge, 2015.

Selected Articles

“Archiving Africa: Notes for the Contemporary African Filmmaker,” Black Camera: An International Film Journal 14, no. 2 (Spring 2023): 144–171.

Race, Decolonization, and Global Citizenship in South Africa: A Cultural Manifesto in the Age of Global Convulsions.” African Literature Today. Vol 37, November. 2019.

 “Bonny Ibhawoh’s Human Rights in Africa: Rethinking Africa in the Human Rights Discourse.” Canadian Journal of African Studies. Vol. 52, No. 3, 2018. Pub Jan. 2019.

“Introduction: Extenuating Circumstances, African Youth, and Social Agency in a Late-modern World.” Postcolonial Text, Vol. 8, No 3&4, 2013. [Published March 31st, 2014].

Grants, fellowships, and awards

  • Outstanding College Researcher, College of Arts and Sciences, Illinois State University, November, 2022.
  • National Humanities Center Fellowship, Research Triangle, North Carolina. September 2021-May 2022.
  • Faculty Research Awards, College of Arts and Sciences, Illinois State University. Spring, 2021.
  • “CODESRIA African Diaspora Support to African Universities: Visiting Professorship Program. May to August 2016.
  • “Research and Training in African Literatures and Cultures.” Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Grant. May to August 2015 and June to August 2023 
  • Newton Follow-up Funding from the British Academy. September 2013- August 2018.
  • Newton International Fellowship, University of Birmingham, UK. January 2011-December 12.
  • SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, Canada. May 2010-June 2012.

Current research

I am currently working on a new book-length project that focuses on the aesthetic and philosophical dimensions of the cinema of Femi Odugbemi, renowned Nollywood film director and TV producer. Nollywood cinema emerged in Nigeria in the early 1990s as an artisanal film industry created by unemployed urban youth seeking alternative avenues to eke out a living and to document and bear witness to the vicissitudes of life amidst the insufferable conditions brought about by the imposition of harsh neoliberal economic policies by international financial institutions on developing countries in the mid-1980s. Tentatively entitled Afropolitan Humanism: Popular Cinema and Humanist Advocacy in Nigeria, the book project aims to chronicle, in a contextual and historically sensitive way, the humanitarian uses to which Odugbemi has put his screen media work as a socially-committed Nollywood filmmaker. I’m particularly interested in exploring the multiple unique ways in which he has deployed film and television technologies as political tools to interrogate and challenge a decadent postcolonial political and socio-cultural order that is marked by cruelty, contemptuous of human life and the other precious resources needed to sustain it. Part of the wider argument I make about Odugbemi’s cinematic oeuvre as a director-auteur is that his screen media output as a whole is indicative of a well-established tradition of what Hans Richter has referred to elsewhere as a “socially responsible cinema” in Nollywood film production, which has rarely been acknowledged by African film scholars and other commentators on Nollywood.

Areas of graduate supervision

  • Modern African Literature
  • African Cinema/Nollywood 
  • Black Popular Culture
  • Cultural Theory 
  • African Youth Studies
  • Postcolonial Anglophone World Literatures