Heart of Arts

Call For Papers: Conference in Honour of Professor Bolanle Awe @ 90



Organised by:

The University of Texas at Austin

University of Lagos

University of Ibadan


Toyin Falola, University of Texas at Austin

Professor Olufunke Adeboye, University of Lagos

Professor Rasheed Olaniyi, University of Ibadan

Dr Sharon Omotoso, University of Ibadan


Keynote Address:

Professor Olabisi Aina

Department of Sociology

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria


Date:  February 13-14, 2023                                                                       Venue: University of Ibadan



Call for Papers

History is undoubtedly the lifeline of every human society. It is an integral element in the intertwined processes of development and civilisation, which influence cultures, beliefs, and perceptions. Whether oral or written, history promotes data collection that helps put past trends in perspective and predicts future happenings as part of its role in achieving a sense of socio-philosophical coherence in any human context. Professor Bolanle Awe has made unrivalled contributions to Nigerian female historiography in particular and African history in general. As a result, the Bolanle Awe at 90 Conference tagged “Oral Traditions, Written Histories” will draw on the scholarship, career, and legacy of Nigeria’s foremost female history professor as she hits the nonagenarian milestone in January 2023.

During her illustrious academic career, Professor Bolanle Awe, a former Professor of Oral History at the University of Ibadan, was Editor of The Journal of the University of Lagos School of African Studies, a visiting scholar to several universities within and outside Nigeria, a consultant to governments and international bodies and agencies, as well as a member of several public and private-sector boards. It is no exaggeration that Professor Awe’s life is the veritable definition of a fulfilling academic career fused with commendable non-academic stints. At her core, the nonagenarian is a researcher who focuses on solution-driven approaches to national and global problems, as evident in the posts she has held as Director at the Institute of African Studies, with the Women’s Research and Documentation Center (WORDOC), University of Ibadan, and with organisations including MacArthur Foundation, UNESCO, and UNFPA.

Remarkably, oral history is a forte of this amazon around whose works this conference is woven. Oral history has proven valuable in the collection and analysis of ancient, recent, and even contemporary historical data. Given the value it has placed on the spoken word from time immemorial, the African continent continues to rely heavily on oral history. Indeed, pre-colonial Africa was peopled by diverse civilisations with distinct histories, cultures, and beliefs, which influenced their paths to indigenous growth and development, and oral literacy was a key feature of each civilisation. However, oral literacy has its downsides, especially as it concerns inter-generational transmission and sustainable preservation of history. For instance, a ton of historical data and stories, mostly in the form of written history, have been lost owing to the lack of a proper tracking system.

Oral historiography has always been beset by the incremental loss of its credibility and the regrettable loss of humongous amounts of oral historical data and stories due to a lack of documentation. Moreover, the more stories were orally transmitted, the less reliable they tended to become. Luckily, African History as a discipline has greatly benefited from the emergence of Oral History as an academic subfield in history. African History is now in less danger of not being preserved due to the methodologies of oral history that allow historians to collect oral historical data and transform them into written form. While the rest of the world has largely transitioned to written history and documentation, African historians are yet to achieve full documentation of histories that were formerly oral.

Nevertheless, practitioners must be mindful that written history cannot fully replace oral historical data, especially when it comes to the role of human historical sources in traditional religious practices across Africa, for instance. Thus, it should be noted that oral history and studies in oral history form only an integral and indispensable part of history as an academic discipline. Therefore, a major question that this conference seeks to answer is: What are the most important landmarks in oral historical studies in the past sixty years? As valuable and integral as oral history is to the continued existence of human societies, it faces a wide range of challenges, including a lack of access to its custodians.

Certain studies in oral history have stalled due to the inability to access a key informant; therefore, we expect participants at the conference to interrogate such issues as well as others, particularly those concerning the past, present, and continued roles of both academic and non-academic historians in the study of African societies. We expect presentations to cover unique and general issues in oral and written history while examining the breakthroughs and challenges of oral history as a sub-field of History. Ideally, we will place primacy on the past sixty years as a significant marker of when Professor Bolanle Awe started her academic journey as a historian. Also, we will welcome articles that seek directly to expand the frontiers of her works, be it reviews, critiques, and/or theoretical developments. However, studies that go further back in time will be accepted too. Another main turf of this celebrated scholar is women/gender studies in Nigeria – how did this additional frame intersect with oral and written histories?

This announcement calls for papers that will examine various themes related to the studies, challenges and breakthroughs of oral history, the impact of written histories, and the role of both academic and non-academic historians. We, therefore, invite papers on the following areas and closely related ones:

  • Bolanle Awe and Oral History
  • Bolanle Awe and Gender Studies
  • Bolanle Awe and WORDOC (Leadership, Mentorship and Succession)
  • Bolanle Awe and Yoruba/Nigerian History
  • Illustrious Women in Nigerian History
  • Women and Domesticity in Modern Nigeria
  • Women in the Nigerian Public Sphere
  • Nigerian Women in Popular Culture and the Arts
  • Gender Studies in Nigeria
  • Women Historians in the Past 60 Years
  • Studies of Oral History in the Past 60 Years
  • Professional Oral Historians Outside the Academy
  • Advances in African Historiography
  • Oral Traditions and Digital Technology
  • New Sources in African Historiography


Participants are expected to follow these guidelines: 

Each proposal must include:


  • Title of the work and an abstract of 250 words
  • Name of the presenter (with the surname underlined)
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Mailing address
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Three to five keywords that best describe the themes and topics relevant to the submission.



Proposals for Panels (3-5 presenters) must include:

  • Title of the panel and a collective summary of 250 words on the panel’s theme, including the title of each individual work
  • A 250-word abstract for each speaker’s presentation
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Institutional affiliation of each presenter.

Interested authors should follow these editorial guidelines:

Please use Bolanle Awe at 90 Conference as the subject title for your submission.

Font: Times New Roman, Size 12, double-spaced.

All abstracts must be submitted by September 30, 2022, to: bolanleawe90@gmail.com

Notification of acceptance: October 15, 2022

Full papers are to be submitted by January 10, 2023


Conference Registration

Academics within Nigeria  — N20, 000

Students within Nigeria                 — N15, 000

International Faculty           — $100

International Students         — $50


For enquiries, please contact: Olusegun Olopade (bcmanager@toyinfalolanetwork.org



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