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Grant number: FA-252384-17

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FA-252384-17

Melani McAlister
George Washington University (Washington, DC 20052-0001)

Responses of Religion and Popular Humanitarianism to Nigeria’s Civil War, 1967-1970

Researching and writing a history of responses by American religious and social organizations to the Biafra-Nigeria civil war of the late 1960s.

This project explores how the civil war in Nigeria (1967-70) became an international cause that helped forge a new form of popular humanitarianism—one that exhibited both the promise and the dangers of humanitarian intervention during and after the Cold War. As the province of Biafra struggled for independence, powerful images of starving children dominated news coverage in the US and Europe. This study analyzes how religious communities (Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish) mobilized as part of a larger movement that included hundreds of local groups as well as transnational organizations like the World Council of Churches. Their work did not save Biafra, but it reshaped citizen activism and enhanced arguments for aggressive humanitarian intervention in future crises. Keep Biafra Alive provides a new interpretation of Biafra that is genuinely transnational and uniquely attentive to religion, highlighting the role of visual images and affect in shaping international support for Biafra.

Project fields:
American Studies; Diplomatic History; History of Religion

Program:
Fellowships for University Teachers

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018