Women and the Nigeria-Biafra War: International Conference
May 8-9, 2018
Women and the Nigeria-Biafra War: Reframing Gender and Conflict in Africa
An International Conference in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the War
When: May 8-9, 2018
Where: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
The Department of Africana Studies, University of Maryland, Baltimore County welcomes panel, paper, and poster presentations from scholars that will contribute to a better understanding of the complexity of women and gender in the Nigeria-Biafra War.
The civil war that broke out in Nigeria on July 6, 1967 between the seceded Eastern Region, which adopted the Republic of Biafra as its name, and the rest of the country, often called the Nigeria-Biafra War, is regarded as a watershed in African continental affairs and global order. It came at enormous human and material costs, carried implications for ethno-nationalist movements and political stability in Africa, and unleashed a wave of humanitarianism in postcolonial conflict. As a phenomenon, warfare is usually preconceived as an exclusive male preserve, a sporting exploit for displaying masculine virility or winning local/national honor, and even women’s admiration. Nearly fifty years after the Nigeria-Biafra War ended in January 1970, the complex experiences of Nigerian and foreign women affected by the conflict have yet to be told and adequately recorded. There has been no conference focused on the role of women in the war or how the conflict affected them, a void which demands to be filled. This international conference is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war and to highlight the cost of the conflict on Nigerian women, their participation in the hostilities, and their contributions to the survival of families, communities and the country.
Fictional and nonfictional accounts of the war, especially those written by men, often peripheralize or stereotypically represent women as passive spectators or helpless victims of the armed conflict. Such works tend to promote a form of heroism drawn directly from the involvement of men just as they highlight and exaggerate women’s moral laxity and sensationalize their marital infidelities. These narratives obscure the fact that women and girls disproportionately experience sexual violence in war times. The valiant and gallant ways women carried out old and new responsibilities occasioned by the war have often been minimized or even ignored. Thus, this international conference serves as an important platform to present and discuss women as embodiment of vulnerabilities and agency, active participants and survivors, who demonstrated remarkable resilience and initiative, waging war on all fronts in the face of precarious conditions and scarcities, and maximizing opportunities occasioned by the hostilities.
For more information, please see the conference website at link below.