African Studies Workshop Featuring Chidi Ugwu


Monday, April 4, 2022, 6:00pm to 8:00pm


Virtual Event

Presenting: Governance, personality cult, and sacred enchantment – negotiating failed public aspirations in prebendalist Nigeria

Chidi Ugwu Profile Photo

Chidi Ugwu has a background in cultural anthropology and a PhD in medical anthropology. He has taught anthropology and qualitative methods in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka since 2011 and has guest-lectured in the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health since 2017. His works have earned him support from such bodies as the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), The Werner-Gren Foundation, the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Nigerian government, some of which he has published in The Lancet, American Anthropologist, Ethnography, The Qualitative Report and World Archaeology. In 2018, a consortium comprising the African-German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), and the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) selected him as one of the seven most promising early career scholars in Africa. For one of his ongoing works, titled “Indigenous ethnography of subaltern agency,” the Harvard Radcliffe Institute has granted him a research fellowship position where he is spending the 2021-2022 academic year. The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) has selected him for a research cooperations visit to the University of Hamburg, which he will take up soon after his Radcliffe Fellowship in 2022. Dr Ugwu’s research interests circulate around the asymmetries of knowledge and power; and, to highlight these, he casts nuanced glances at the landscapes of public health, politics, and religion. In this presentation titled "Religion and personality cult as motifs in the negotiations of prebendalism in Nigeria," he draws from his ethnographic emersion in southern Nigeria to narrate how prebendalism, failure of modern governance, personality cult, and religion intersect in ways that remain mutually reinforcing

Discussant: Daniel Agbiboa (Harvard University)


A week in advance, the presenter’s paper will be circulated through the Harvard African Studies Workshop listserv. It is assumed that everyone has read the paper before the workshop.  After presentation and commentary, Workshop attendees are invited to engage in critique and discussion, under the moderation of the Workshop Chairs. 

Register for the Spring 2022 workshops here.

View workshop recordings here:

ORGANIZER(S):  Harvard University Center for African Studies