Rosemary Ajegwu 4th year Industrial Engineering major mentored by professor Moya Bailey for SSIRF Project

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Rosemary Ajegwu was awarded a Summer Scholar’s Independent Project Fellowship (now the Trail Blazer Award)  this summer to spend 10 weeks conducting their own research with the mentorship of Professor Moya Bailey. Learn more about Rose’s project below.

“we are more than bodies” is about third culture kids—children of immigrants who grew up in a place different from where their parents grew up—who are Queer, specifically looking at Nigerian Americans. Many of us try to hold onto as much of Nigerian culture as our parents can give us while living in America, but what happens when that culture seeks to kill us? Homophobia is steeped in Nigerian culture by way of religion and colonization. Carrying their conservative, colonial views on homosexuality over the Atlantic Ocean, immigrant Nigerian parents continue to practice homophobia as part of Nigerian culture and reject the acceptance of Queer people citing queerness as a “western” concept. In She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak, the editors write

“the second type of erasure is the rewriting of the rich histories and cultural traditions of diverse sexualities and gender norms in the land now known as Nigeria. Living outside of gender norms and heterosexual relationships, or fluidity in gender identity, is not new. They may not be the same as those reflected in the language, films, and TV shows of the west, as well as contemporary Nigerian cultural industries, but they are part of Nigerian history, culture, and tradition, not in opposition to it.”

Looking at the effects of the erasure of this rich history on Nigerian Americans who already exist on the outskirts of two cultures, coupled with Queerness, “we are more than bodies” explores the internal, intergenerational, and familial conflicts cultural homophobia causes Queer Nigerian Americans through the multidisciplinary medium of digital collaging.

To learn more about Rose’s summer project click link to the video and presentation poster
Learn how you can spend this summer doing your own independent project with the Trail Blazer Award.