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Youth culture and the struggle for social space: the Nigerian video film Open Access


Other title
Social Struggle
Video Film
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Ugor, Paul
Supervisor and department
Okome, Onookome (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Ouzgane, Lahoucine (English and Film Studies)
White, Jerry (English and Film Studies)
Barbour, Charles (Sociology)
Breitinger, Eckhard (Institute of African Studies, University of Bayreuth, Germany)
Department of English and Film Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Abstract This dissertation reflects on how young people in Nigeria have appropriated global media technology in forging a local cinema industry, popularly known as Nollywood. First begun as a renegade cinematic art by jobless youth in the late 1980s, Nollywood has become the third biggest film industry in the world, next only to America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood, grossing approximately $50 million US dollars annually (Okome 2007a; 2007b). The study thus examines how Nollywood has become a new social space for youth to retell their postcolonial struggles. It examines selected video films, showing how the films both represent the huge social challenges faced by young people in the city and the way youth reinvent those stormy socio-economic and political conditions into moments of possibilities and hope. Combining both an ethnographic study of the video culture in Nigeria and a textual reading of several video films, the research draws insights from a cross-section of video filmmakers, workers in the arts and culture sectors, and a random survey of the diversity of viewers that make up the video audiences in Nigeria. Theoretically, it extends on the pioneering work on the video film by Haynes and Okome (1997; 2000). Using the theoretical framework of the new sociology of youth (Alan 2007; Bennett and Khan-Harris 2004; Wyn and White 1997; UN 1993; 2005 and Fornas & Goran Bolin 1995) and the anthropological/cultural studies approach by Barber (1997), the project discusses the distinctively creative deployment of the video medium as a narrative genre that narrativizes the different and difficult life struggles of youth in contemporary Nigeria. I argue that as a new form of cultural expression, Nollywood is Africa’s new "Third Cinema" invented by innovative Nigerian youth in remapping the turbulent contours of a troubled postcolony. I demonstrate how creative classes of marginal Nigerian youth have now taken initiative, appropriating and adapting new media technology in reinventing not just their social and economic lives, but also in narrating their social struggles in everyday life for both local and international audiences. The outcome, the study shows, is the emergence of a new social space for youth.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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