Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Jay Keister

Second Advisor

Reiland Rabaka

Third Advisor

Misri Deepti

Fourth Advisor

Thomas L. Riis

Fifth Advisor

Benjamin Teitelbaum


In this dissertation, I examine the Obiwuruotu Women’s Dance Group, a group of mostly women performers from Ihiagwa, in Imo state, Southeastern Nigeria, in order to understand how Igbo women negotiate changing gender roles through music. Through ethnographic and historical research, I explore the ways in which Obiwuruotu Women’s Dance Group uses music to create a workable space to resist traditional gender roles expected of them in Igbo society. As Igbo women are traditionally restricted to domestic musical practices, this group’s widespread popularity as musicians throughout Igbo land is unprecedented and the group embodies many of the contradictions and conflicts that have been theorized in contemporary post-colonial African feminist discourse. While the group’s musical performances both reflect and challenge the double narrative of the African woman as either victim or heroine, the group is nevertheless still guided by traditional Igbo norms and values. Also unprecedented is the recent inclusion of men into this dance group that would normally be exclusively for married women. I focus on these tensions to understand the intersectionality between music and gender, class, motherhood, patriarchy and solidarity in Igbo culture.


Sixth and seventh advisors: Rebecca Maloy, Laura Sampsel.