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Aso Ebi: Fractured Materiality and the Political Economy of Intimacy

September 29, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

This event has passed. You can access a recording of it here.

Time: 12pm CT, 5pm UTC

Speaker: Okechukwu Nwafor


Photo of Mrs. Oniru's Birthday Party. (Lagos, 2005)
Mrs. Oniru’s Birthday Party. Lagos, 2005. Photo Credit: Ovation Magazine

This talk examines how the material and visual culture of aso ebi uniformed fashion are part of urban life in Lagos, Nigeria. I ask: is there an implicit discord embodied in aso ebi’s messages of uniformity? To answer this question, I scrutinize the issue of “oneness” that aso ebi wearers profess. I examine how this oneness manifests itself through the artificial material signifier of uniforms (aso ebi) among people of different cultural, ideological, and political affiliations. I illustrate how individuals have influenced the spirit of aso ebi’s solidarity; many now view the uniform as shallow, bodily attire. As this talk will demonstrate, references to the politics of exclusion/inclusion have powerfully shaped the social and cultural valences of aso ebi as a visual gesture of group conviviality and oneness.



Photo of Okechukwu NwaforOkechukwu Nwafor is professor of Art History and Painting at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria. He was a Forsyth Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of the History of Art, the University of Michigan where he taught two courses in the Winter of 2019. His first book, ‘Aso ebi: Dress, Fashion, Visual Culture and Urban Cosmopolitanism in West Africa’ was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2021. His articles have appeared in many journals including Postcolonial Studies, African Studies, Nka, Journal of Contemporary African Art, Critical Intervention, African Arts, Cultural Critique, Fashion Theory, among others.


September 29, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm