Trending in the margins
: Contemporary art from Nigeria in the global markets

  • Jonathan Adeyemi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Earlier studies have established that the value of art is socially constructed in the global markets. Drawing on the artistic field, feminist and post-colonial theories; this research explored the circumstances regarding the relative international obscurity and under-representation of contemporary art from Nigeria by examining the extent of its internationalisation and what accounts for the prevailing state of this engagement. Integrating historical research with interviews, the study reveals a limited international engagements of contemporary art from Nigeria. This weakness is partly due to the systemic hegemonic marginalization but mainly to debilitating domestic socio-political factors. These support Bourdieu’s claim that agents' position in the artistic field is determined by the strength of their cultural, social and economic capital. The study argues that for Nigeria to become a centre of art, supporting a robust domestic market and meaningful international engagements, it must develop adequate arts infrastructure and explore alternative global networks. While the government may not support these independently, considering pressing fundamental demands, it should establish a supportive legislative framework to drive sustainable private interventions. London was found to be central to the fledgling internationalisation of contemporary art from Nigeria and this is attributable to the Britain-Nigeria colonial relationship and London’s position as a global cultural and commercial hub. The research highlights the underlying prejudice and contradictions in the positive assessment of foreign influences (including Africa’s) on European art and the negative responses to Western inspirations in African modernist approaches. In addition to expanding the frontiers of knowledge in art history, sociology of art and cultural policy studies, it also enhances our understanding of the exigencies of internationalising contemporary art from marginalised contexts. By drawing parallels in the aesthetic influences in European and African modernisms, the study strengthens the arguments for global modernisms and the correctives to Eurocentric art historiography.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorDavid Robb (Supervisor) & David Grant (Supervisor)


  • Margins
  • contemporary art
  • Nigeria
  • global art markets

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