Great Expectations

A blog of the Department of English at BGSU:A place for faculty, students and alumni to connect.

The Mind Game: Nigerian Universities, Neo-colonialism, and the Cold War, 1960-1990

Posted by bgsuenglish on November 2, 2007

How did the cold war impact Nigeria’s universities and nation building process? In what ways were the universities that emerged in a neo-colonial and cold war context Nigerian? What can Nigeria’s non-alignment policy and practice tell us about foreign policy and elite attitudes?

Nigeria began its existence in 1960 as a sovereign country shrouded in vestiges of the colonial system and the politics of the cold war. Both this new global political context and Nigeria’s colonial history profoundly affected elite attitudes and the structures of universities. Nigeria’s first modern university, the University College of Ibadan (UCI) established in 1948, was steeped in British academic tradition; its curriculum, personnel, standards, and infrastructure were modelled after the University of London. On the eve of independence, the United States entered the scene by helping to establish the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, imbued with an American academic model. Although the USSR did not establish a university, it employed other means to influence the minds of Nigerian elites. In newly independent Nigeria, an old colonial power and two newer imperial powers fought to educate and therefore influence post-colonial African minds. Professor Nwauwa’s talk investigates the challenges of these externally imposed academic models, and their impact on the Nigerian academy and elites in the post-independence period.

Apollos O. Nwauwa is Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at BGSU. His teaching and research focus on modern Africa, especially colonial, post-colonial (neo-colonial), and intellectual aspects of African history. He is the author of Imperialism, Academe, and Nationalism: Britain and University Education for Africans, 1860-1960 and has published essays in several international journals, including History in Africa, Asian and African Studies, and Cahiers D’Études Africaines. Currently a fellow at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society, he is working on a number of projects, one of which explores the impact of the cold war on education and elite formation in Africa.

This is the fourth ICS Faculty Fellows lecture of the year and will be held on Monday, November 5 at 1:30 pm in Mylander Room 207 of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

Special Thanks to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and to the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences for their support of this work. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, call (419) 372-0585.

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