The City of Lagos in New Nollywood: Poetics, Culture and Metropolitan Aesthetics

The City of Lagos in New Nollywood: Poetics, Culture and Metropolitan Aesthetics

Senayon Olaoluwa, University of Ibadan
Takes place
From - Until
30.06.2023 -
Connections Redaktion, Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics, Universität Leipzig

In June 2023 the editors of the potential volume shall receive compelling draft chapters from both established and early career scholars and researchers who are interested in submitting their work for publication on the project: “The City of Lagos in New Nollywood: Poetics, Culture and Metropolitan Aesthetics”.

The City of Lagos in New Nollywood: Poetics, Culture and Metropolitan Aesthetics

“In Nigeria today, multiplex density is the greatest in Lagos, where the disproportionate presence of large screens is unmistakable. Concentrated in that coastal city, such screens are perhaps the most obvious products of differential attention to Nigerian theatrical promise-of, that is, that of “Lagos bias” that led the Eastern Region to so aggressively pursue collaboration with Hollywood companies in the 1950s”
Noah Tsika, Cinematic Independence: Constructing the Big Screen in Nigeria. California: University Press, 141: 2022.

“But Surulere is shaped by the same forces and structures or lack of structures that produce a dreary monotony across the whole city and all Nigerian cities: burglary bars, imposing metal gates, embedded glass topping cinderblock walls, concrete blackened by urban population and topical mould, informal commerce and parked cars crowding the cement aprons of businesses and sidewalks (in the rare cases where sidewalks exist), motorcycle weaving through stalled traffic so that walking is taxing and hazardous”.
Jonathan Haynes, Nollywood: The Creation of Nigerian Film Genres (Prefatory Notes)

In June 2023 the editors of the potential volume shall receive compelling draft chapters from a good number of both established and early career scholars and researchers who are interested in submitting their work for publication on the project: “The City of Lagos in New Nollywood: Poetics, Culture and Metropolitan Aesthetics”. The work is inspired by the ideas of scholars, artistes and filmmakers, whose recent works have chronicled and represented the city, as tropes and building blocks in order to understand the neo-social and cultural context of the city of Lagos.

All submissions are required to be interdisciplinary and/or trans-disciplinary in their engagement in order to facilitate and pursue a robust discourse from a variety of perspectives that addresses new Nollywood as a movement, concept, idea and a means through which the city finds creative but, to employ Matthew Brown’s term “Indirect” representation and replication of the city of Lagos-as a post-colonial city, as specific location.

The city of Lagos holds an unparalleled attraction for Nigerians as well as the rest of the world precisely because ever since its founding in the late medieval period, it has benefited from a peculiar privilege of location which has remained fundamental to its evolutionary emergence as a global city. Sitting comfortably within the historical geography of the Slave Coast, it served the age of the obnoxious Atlantic slavery, gaining a reputation as exit point for millions of Africans into the Americas and other parts of the world against their wish. Not surprisingly, it became a popular point of return for many freed slaves and served as the space for the development of default urban-scape dynamics in the wake of Atlantic slavery.

The indices of modernity and modernization that attended colonialism in Nigeria found their finest expression in the city of Lagos, so much so that even when several other locations had previously enjoyed the privilege of being designated the capital of colonial Nigeria, it was Lagos that ultimately earned the designation of the colonial capital up to the end of colonialism in 1960. As a post-colonial capital, Lagos enjoyed the unique privilege until 1991 when a new seat of power was inaugurated in Abuja. Even more intriguing is the fact that the city of Lagos has never ceased to have the strongest pull for people from all over Nigeria and across the world since the relocation of the capital of governance to Abuja. Incontrovertibly Nigeria’s and Africa’s most populous city, Lagos has remained the nation’s economic capital despite its loss of federal political agency as capital. A combination of historical and contemporary values has earned Lagos a preeminent place in the colonial and postcolonial narration that is embodied in various forms of textual practice. Yet, Lagos also arguably remains a domain of contradictions that speak to African postcolonial conditions. While Nigerian and African literature has accentuated this fact, the history of film in the country has sustained the textual consciousness as interpreted on the screen—from pre-Nollywood to Nollywood and to New Nollywood.

The city is a constantly mediated space that transforms, and the transformation not only signifies upon the films that reproduce the city, but also upon the audience and how they in turn, relate with the city’s transformations in familiar terms. Nollywood and its Lagosian audiences are linked by the core stories produced, including the spaces occupied by characters that inhabit them. In effect, they “form and create” what should or ought to characterize the city. The city that Nollywood remediates embodies and re-echoes the contradictions of the postcolonial quagmires that it creates. Onookome Okome and Matthias Krings (2013) have argued that Nollywood is taken seriously due largely to the fact that there exist myriad postcolonial predicaments that it illustrates and reflects upon. Nollywood is popular because, the people of the city see themselves in the visual tendencies as created by the cineastes. If truly Nollywood is produced “in the atmosphere of the postcolonial condition” as Okome and Krings have pointed out, there is an establishment that also supports and influences such conditions. The establishment exists in Lagos-in greater manifold numbers than can be fathomed.

Karin Barber recently established that cities have continued to function as “sites of opportunity or a place of waste, deception and loss” (2018). (Also see Stephanie Newell’s Histories of Dirt: media and Urban Life in Colonial and Postcolonial Lagos. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2020) These characteristics are not farfetched in the city of Lagos because it is a popular city and an urban landscape that registers all the myriad anxieties, hopes, impediments, mysteries, the catastrophic, the bold, the weird, the beautiful and the wayward as well as the young and the restless. All the aforementioned motifs are signifiers that are embedded in the city, as they are ever present in the texts-interlocutors of New Nollywood films.

New Nollywood films offer ample space to initiate new ways of reading cinema from the point of view of the ‘new-wave-narratives’ discussant. That is, including the postcolonial way of reading, and careful way of decoding, reading with a second hindsight these new narratives-as emerging poetics and politics of the city or project making through a Lagosian stylized cinematic apparatus that is steeped in the “aesthetics” as well as the “popular” imaginary as practice.

We are specifically interested in chapters from both African-and non-African-based scholars specializing in African Cinemas, Screen Media Studies, and Expanded Cinema or Screen Media whose research works are steeped within these fields and/or allied fields, on recent big screen productions otherwise known as ‘New Nollywood’ and the various ways in which they underscore the riveting attention that the city of Lagos enjoys in the interpretation of what Adesokan has termed the “postcolonial incredible”. (2011) While we do not wish to compartmentalise potential chapters by suggesting to potential contributors what to submit, we desire for each submission to consider, (among other insights) how, New Nollywood films present Lagos as a city where characters of different lifestyles and social orientation inhabit. We suggest that, as a postcolonial society, Lagos compels such lifestyles, and they remain significant to instigating a capturing of the tendencies that construct such representations, and how the city is understood and represented: even through what Anthony King once referred to as the revelation of sites of the “distinctive social, spatial and cultural characteristics”. (2009)

In addition to the above chapters might address the following queries which are yet to be fully unpacked. Though, they are by no means exhaustive:
-How do filmmakers construct Lagos, and history in New Nollywood cinema?
-How do filmmakers construct narratives around the relationship between Lagos and transnationalism in New Nollywood cinema?
-How can scholars account for narratives that document ‘Lagos and spatiotemporal transformation’ in New Nollywood cinema?
-How do scholars enter into the discourse of Lagos and new media in New Nollywood in the 21st Century?
-How do filmmakers conceptualise Lagos, and the question of power in New Nollywood?
-What are the new ideas explored around Lagos and religion in New Nollywood?
-What genres best encompass narratives about Lagos and cosmopolitanism in New Nollywood?
-How do filmmakers deal with issues around human rights activism in the city and on the new screen?
-To what extent do filmmakers engage in issues surrounding Lagos and queer (sexuality, sexual orientation and LGBTQ) narratives in New Nollywood?
-How does New Nollywood advance the representation of Lagos as a site of contestation and resistance?
-How do filmmakers through “short films”, “film novella”, “documentaries and film-essays” capture “Lagos and environmentalism” in New Nollywood?

Other areas to be looked at can feature: “Lagos and politics in New Nollywood”, “Lagos and conflict New Nollywood”, “Lagos and romance in New Nollywood”, “Lagos and memory in New Nollywood”, and “Lagos and music in New Nollywood”.

Interestingly, a major departure which contributors can also consider is how New Nollywood movement has contributed to enhancing the quality of emerging film festivals in the city, and how they compare with more established and popular festivals in Durban, Ouagadougou, New York, Toronto, and other very vibrant cities of the world.

Submissions must include:
- A draft chapter of between 6, 000-8,000 words (these will include footnotes but should exclude bibliography)
- A chapter abstract of about 300 words.
- A biography of 300 words.

Potential contributors are required to use Chicago referencing style; either UK or US spelling and must be consistent with one. If you however, quote something in an African language (which is encouraged), ensure you provide an English translation. The publishers for this volume shall be Duke University Press.

Please note that the deadline for submission is Friday, 30th June, 2023-11:59pm. Interested/Potential contributors are expected to adhere to the date as any submission made after the deadline will not be considered.

Submissions should be made to: Senayon Olaoluwa ( and Babatunde Onikoyi (

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Senayon Olaoluwa

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