Nduka Otiono, a Nigerian-Canadian academic and former journalist at The Guardian newspaper, has been appointed as director of Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies.
The appointment, which is for a three-year term, will take effect from July 1, 2022.
Otiono’s appointment was announced in a statement by Pauline Rankin, dean, faculty of arts and social sciences, Carleton University, Canada.
Rankin 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”.
She listed his recent publications to 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).
Speaking on the appointment, Otiono expressed gratitude for the opportunity.
“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,” he was quoted as saying.
“When I joined this unit as the first full-time faculty member on tenure track in 2014, I had no idea that within seven years, I would be entrusted with its leadership as the first Director not appointed from outside of the institute.
“Recognising 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.”
He expressed appreciation to the hiring committee, the university management, as well as his colleagues, students and family for their inspiration and support.
Otiono is a writer, Associate Professor and Graduate Programme Coordinator at the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University.
He is the author and co-editor of eight books of creative writing and academic research. Prior to turning to academia, he was for many years a journalist in Nigeria, General Secretary of Association of Nigerian Authors, founding member of the Nigerian chapter of UNESCO’s Committee on Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage, and founding member of the Board of the $100,000 annual Nigerian Prize for Literature,” the profile reads.
A Fellow of the William Joiner Centre for War and Social Consequences, University of Massachusetts, Boston, his interdisciplinary research focuses on popular urban narratives in postcolonial Africa, and how they travel across multiple popular cultural platforms such as the news media, film, popular music, and social media.
Beyond the cultural relevance of such little genres of everyday life also known as rumours, urban myths or legends, Otiono explores their political relevance and incarnation as “street stories” and how everyday people speak to power through such informal channels. His research draws from his background as a journalist and cultural activist in Nigeria.
His research interests span Cultural Studies, Oral Performance and Literature in Africa, Postcolonial Studies, Media and Communication Studies, Globalization and Popular Culture.