Location: M1400

1:45-3:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov 2, 2023

Discussant: Kirsten N. Mendoza, University of Dayton, Human Rights Studies


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Thursday, November 2nd
1:45 PM

Toxic Nostalgia: Folklore and Legends in Chinelo Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees

Jessica Winters, Murray State University


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

Ijeoma’s story is one in which she experiences patriarchal and heteronormative oppression through the indoctrinating values that come from the songs, folktales, and legends prolific in Under the Udala Trees. Structurally, they are strategically woven into the story in a way that replicates Ijeoma’s rising panic and claustrophobia. Halima Iamli posits that storytelling in this form is integral to the African oral tradition, that it stands alone as an art form, and that folktales can and should be used in the education of 21st century children. She argues that the educational aims of these folk tales, either in traditional or modern fame, prepare a child to develop their identity and operate according to societal dictates and expectations.

Folktales do have an influential place in a child's societal understanding. Fairy tales, songs, proverbs, and all genres that encompass children’s literature, play an important role in the edification of children. First, they are educative. Second, they demonstrate that by wielding violence, storytellers can instill fear through cautionary tales. Finally, these tales are malleable -- not just because the natural adaptation of oral tradition, but because as Boundinot cites in his research, “It is not necessarily the actual folk tale which affects the child; rather, it is the way it is read or presented which makes the most impact.” This is intensified against the backdrop of colonization and diaspora impacting Nigeria. From the beginning, Ijeoma has a habit separating herself from the traumatic events that she faces by mirroring the folktale style. Okparanta, through Ijeoma, reifies that not all folktales are worthy of our nostalgia. Subverting the problematic colonized and patriarchal ideas embedded within them will free us from captivity under the Udala trees.

Empowering Nigerian Youths for Social Change: The Convergence of Civic Education, Media, Art, and Activism

Zainab Onuh-Yahaya, Journalist/Lawyer- Nigeria


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

This paper examines the intersection of civic education, art, and the media as powerful tools for activism, social change, resistance, and transformation, particularly in the context of Nigerian youths. Over the past few years, young Nigerians have emerged as a formidable force in advocating for social justice and good governance in what they have describes as fighting for their lives. Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives, this study explores how the integration of civic education, media, art, and activism empowers Nigerian youths to address social injustices and inequalities, challenge the generations that have come before, and drive meaningful transformations.

The paper then segues into the role of the media and its civic education campaigns in equipping young Nigerians with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to understand their rights, engage in civic processes, and participate actively in shaping their communities. It analyzes the impact of digital Gen-Z media platforms tailored to promoting social awareness and providing alternative narratives that challenge the status quo.

Furthermore, the study examines the transformative potential of art as a medium for self-expression, storytelling, and collective action. It explores how Nigerian youth creatives utilize various art forms such as music, visual arts, poetry, and theatre to convey powerful messages, mobilize communities, and bring attention to pressing social issues.

The paper further explores grassroots organizing, protests, social media campaigns, and advocacy initiatives as effective means for youth-driven social transformation.

By examining the interconnectedness of civic education, media, art, and activism, this study takes a critical look at the innovative ways in which Nigerian youth harness all of these tools in confronting social inequalities, combat corruption, and promoting human rights. It explores what is, what has been and what is slated to come, providing valuable insights for policymakers, educators, civil society organizations, and youth advocates.

The Next Act: Examining the Role of Theatre of Commitment and Human Rights in Post-democratic South Africa

Kingdom Moshounyane


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

The paper explores the role of theatre of commitment in advancing human rights in post-democratic South Africa. The notion of the theatre of commitment implies a theatre that has abandoned literary ends, to serve a political or social program or set of beliefs. The post-democratic South Africa is an antithesis of the Apartheid dispensation, human rights state whose construction is based solely on the pursuit of human rights norms. However, South Africa has not been a panacea of human rights as it has envisioned to be, given the socioeconomic inequalities of the past. Nowhere have these past inequalities shown themselves, than in the post-democratic tragic events of the Marikana Massacre on 16 August 2012, when the South African Police Service (SAPS) fired live ammunition into a crowd, killing 34 mine workers and seriously wounding 78. Cumulative the massacre claimed 47 lives, 34 mine workers and ten others who were killed by the protesting mineworkers, including two policemen and two security guards, while three died after the strike. The Life Esidimeni tragedy, occurred between 1 October 2015 and 31 June 2016 when 144 mentally ill patients died while being relocated from a private healthcare facility called Life Esidimeni (A place of dignity) to ill-equipped and short-staffed facilities around Johannesburg. The paper will explore the extent to which the theatricalisation of these two tragic events, demonstrated a cause committed to human rights as the political-moral idea of time on which became the foundation the post democratic South Africa a human rights state. This will be done by an in-depth analysis of Aubrey Sekhabi’s Marikana the Musical (2017) and Siyabonga Mdubeki’s Isililo (2020) which are two theatrical productions (play texts) that emanated from the two tragic events.

Addressing a Crisis of Imagination: A Social Justice Lens for the Cinematic Representation of Queer Persons with Physical Disabilities in African Films

David Ikpo


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

In crisis situations, persons with physical disabilities and queer persons, who are already vulnerable and face discrimination on their grounds of their immutable identities are subject to increasing hardship at the hands of the public owing to how the assumptions made of them and the meanings associated with them. This study recognizes the double jeopardy that queer persons with disabilities face, particularly queer men with physical disabilities. This study also recognises that cinematic representations are path through public imagination and perceptions of the minorities are curated. As such cinematic representations of queer persons with physical disabilities can be reconfigured to guide the public imagination towards the inclusivity of queer persons with disabilities. However, cinematic representations of queer persons with physical disabilities are almost non-existent. It appears that queer persons with disabilities simply do not exist in film, and as such they do not exist in public imagination and are not catered for law and policy. This translates to increased vulnerability. The erasure of queer persons with physical disabilities from public imagination translates to a ‘crisis of imagination’. This crisis of imagination as a result of displacement and erasure is borrowed from Ndopu’s description of the consequence of erasing 90% of children with disability from the world’s classrooms through the unjust sustenance of ableist structures. In the field of cinematic representation and attitude focused human rights advocacy, this study addresses the erasure of queer persons with physical disabilities through the conceptualization of international best practices with transdisciplinary, decolonial, crip,queer and critical disability theoretical groundings. This study, through a social justice and human rights lens, reads against grain of hegemonic cinematic representations in order a chart a more social justice compliance addressing of the crisis of imagination that erases queer men with physical disabilities.

Rethinking Protest Music: Revolutionary Songs from Myanmar

Heather Maclachlan, University of Dayton


1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

Since the February 1, 2021 military coup in Myanmar, Burmese musicians have been creating and circulating “revolutionary songs.” These anti-coup recordings span a variety of musical genres, but all of them proclaim the same message. This message – rejecting an illegitimate authority and valorizing the wishes of the common people of Myanmar – marks the songs as belonging to the long tradition of protest music. In this presentation I argue that the question that scholars often pose of protest music - does it successfully persuade listeners to join a social movement? - is not the best question to ask of Burmese revolutionary songs. Myanmar’s revolutionary songs seek not so much to persuade as to empower. As the songs’ creators and disseminators explained to me, they created their recordings and posted them on social media as a way of fighting back against a lethal regime. These songs are intended to be a form of motivation and support for those who are already engaged in the struggle against Myanmar’s military dictatorship. As a focus group of Myanmar young people revealed, however, the audience for revolutionary songs does not always embrace the songs in the spirit which their creators’ intended. Ultimately, this presentation argues that scholars must be cautious about making liberatory claims for protest music.