Adebayo Adenrele

A Nigerian born Scholar, Professor Omolade Adunbi has been appointed by the University of Michigan as the first African and Nigerian Director of the African Studies Centre.

Professor Adunbi, who is a political and environmental anthropologist was appointed by the University in Ann Arbor, a United States of America’s number one public university and among the top twenty best universities in the world.

Before his appointment, Adunbi served as an Associate Chair for African Studies in the Department of Afromaerican and African Studies at the Michigan university.

Adunbi is a faculty member in the, Programme in the Environment, Donia Human Rights Center and Program in Anthropology and History.

The African Studies Center (ASC) at the University of Michigan provides strategic guidance and coordination for Africa-related education, research, and training activities on campus, and promotes opportunities for collaboration with African partners on the continent.

Adunbi obtained his MPhil and PhD in Anthropology, an MA in African Studies with concerns in politics and political economy all from Yale University.

He received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from the Ondo State University (now Ekiti State University) in Nigeria.

Following his appointment, he said: “It is an honour to be leading the most vibrant African Studies Center in North America and of course the world. The ASC is unique in many ways because it is the only African Studies Center that incorporates STEM, Social Sciences, and the Humanities into a program that pays serious attention to the continent of Africa. Africa has some of the youngest populations in the world and there are a lot of potentials in the areas of higher education that are yet to be explored. There is growth in the areas of use of technology and engaging with the continent would open a window of opportunity for our faculty and students. My plan is for Michigan to take the lead in showing how to effectively engage with Africa as equal partners in strengthening institutions and alliances”.

Adunbi plans to use his position to reflect the importance of collaboration and cooperation with universities and institutions of higher education in Africa.

He is an active and innovative researcher whose experience as a former human rights activist gives him unusual perspective on, and access to, his area of study: the dynamics of power, citizenship, claim-making, and militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Adunbi’s first book, Oil Wealth and Insurgency in Nigeria (Indiana University Press, 2015) won the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain and Ireland’s Amaury Talbot book prize for the best book in the Anthropology of Africa in 2017. His second book, Enclaves of Exception: Special Economic Zones and Extractive Practices in Nigeria, published by Indiana University Press, was released in May 2022.

He is currently working on a new research project that engages with questions of climate politics and the ways in which environmental groups and activists uses social media to promote their advocacy for the environment.

He is the author of numerous articles in journals such as Cambridge journal of Anthropology, Africa, Journal of the International Institute at Cambridge, African Studies Review, Extractive Industries and Society, Journal of Material Culture, Information and Society and Political and Legal Anthropology Review.

He serves on the editorial board of various journals such as Africa, Current Anthropology, Social Analysis, Political and Legal Anthropology Review etc.

Adunbi is the winner 2022 John Dewey Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research. As Dean Anne Curzan of the College of Literature, Science, and the Rats at the University of Michigan states it, “Dewey winners are considered to model the full range of John Dewey’s own considerable talents: scholarly productivity, provision of leadership, and engagement with and care for students.”

Also, in 2016, he won the University of Michigan Class of 1923 Excellence in Research and Teaching Awards.
In Nigeria, Professor Adunbi serves on the Advisory Board of Social Action.