Matthew H. Brown

Position title: Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2012-2013)

African Languages and Literature, UW-Madison

Portrait image of Matthew H. Brown outdoors

Nollywood Genres: The Form and Politics of Cinema in Nigeria

In his dissertation project on the development of key genres in Nigerian cinema, Brown employs methodologies from history, political science, ethnography, literature, and film studies to trace the institutions, individuals, and forms of power that have shaped the motion picture in colonial and postcolonial Nigeria. He describes genre as a process, involving producers and consumers in evolving relationships with each other over time. In Nigeria, motion picture producers have at times been backed by institutional power; at other times they have simply been innovative entrepreneurs struggling within an economic system over which they have little control. Meanwhile, consumers may be loosely knit by nothing more than ephemeral national, ethnic, or racial identities, but at times they coalesce into social movements with undeniable vision and force. Brown’s goal is to theorize the “video revolution” that gave birth to what is now commonly called “Nollywood” as a product of Nigeria’s long history of motion picture consumption and production as it coincides with a long history of economic, political, and social reorganization.

Matthew H. Brown, IRH Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also earned a Master’s Degree. He researches and teaches African literature and popular culture, regularly employing methods and discourses from history, political science, anthropology, and other disciplines in the pursuit of robust forms of literary and cultural analysis. His dissertation research has been supported by a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship and an Ebrahim Hussein Fellowship. He has published widely on African cinema and literature, Nollywood, and Nigerian popular music and he is currently guest-editing an issue of the Journal of African Cinemas about Nollywood’s audiences across the African continent. Brown is also coordinating a Mellon Workshop at UW-Madison on “New Media and Mass/Popular Culture in the Global South.”