The African Studies Center (ASC) at the University of Michigan is pleased to announce that Omolade Adunbi, professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, was appointed as ASC’s new director, effective July 1, 2022.
I am excited to be appointed as the next ASC director. It is noteworthy that I am following in the footsteps of accomplished scholars and administrators, Professor Kelly Askew (ASC founding director), and my predecessor, Professor Andries Coetzee. These are big shoes to fill, but I am excited that they have built a solid foundation for the center, which I intend to build on. Second, it is an honor to lead arguably the most vibrant African Studies Center in North America and, of course, the world. ASC is unique in many ways because it is the only African studies program that incorporates STEM, social sciences, and the humanities.
Professor Adunbi is a political and environmental anthropologist. He received his PhD in anthropology from Yale University and his undergraduate degree in philosophy in Nigeria, where he lived and studied before coming to the United States for his graduate education.
He joined U-M in 2010 as an assistant professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) and recently served as an associate chair for the department’s African Studies Program. He is affiliated with the Program in the Environment, the Donia Human Rights Center, and the Program in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan. He has also been an active member of ASC’s executive committee.
I have a three-pronged approach in my job as ASC’s director—consolidation, cooperation, and collaboration. I plan to consolidate what my predecessors have done, open new windows of cooperation between Michigan and Africa, and break new grounds for collaboration between U-M and African partners. The Michigan Difference will be crucial to my goal. I have been part of ASC as an associate since I joined U-M in 2010 and have collaborated with many colleagues across the university to showcase the Michigan Difference in Africa. I look forward to continuing in this respect.
Professor Adunbi is an active and innovative researcher with varied experiences that include human, environmental and prodemocracy activism in his home country, Nigeria, during the era of military authoritarianism. His research interest interrogates the dynamics of power, citizenship, natural resource extraction, claim-making, and militancy in Nigeria. Adunbi’s first book, Oil Wealth and Insurgency in Nigeria (Indiana University Press, 2015), won the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain and Ireland’s Amaury Talbot book prize for the best book in the Anthropology of Africa in 2017. His second book, Enclaves of Exception: Special Economic Zones and Extractive Practices in Nigeria, published by Indiana University Press, was released in May 2022. He is currently working on a new research project that engages with questions of climate politics and the ways in which environmental groups and activists use social media to promote their advocacy for the environment. Adunbi is the author of numerous articles in journals such as Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, Africa, Journal of the International Institute at Cambridge, African Studies Review, Extractive Industries and Society, Journal of Material Culture, Information and Society, and Political and Legal Anthropology Review. He serves on the editorial board of various journals such as Africa, Current Anthropology, Social Analysis, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, etc.
I would also like to thank Professor Andries Coetzee for his leadership of ASC for the past four years and his commitment to the future development of the center.
Professor Coetzee will stay on as associate director of ASC in the fall of 2022 before he enjoys a sabbatical in 2023.