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About the project

Liz Bird and Fraser Ottanelli attending the
October 7th, 2011 commemoration in Asaba

The Asaba Memorial Project is a collaboration between USF researchers in  Anthropology and History, together with the people of Asaba, to document and memorialize a mass killing of civilians that took place in 1967, during the Nigerian Civil War. The goal of this initiative is to “reclaim” the history of the event, in a spirit of reconciliation, allowing previously-unheard stories to be told and valued, as well as to contribute to the literature of community trauma and memory.

The project directors are Dr. Elizabeth Bird (Anthropology) and Dr. Fraser Ottanelli (History); their goal is to reconstruct the history of the event, primarily from witness accounts. They have visited Nigeria eight times since 2009, and have conducted over 100 videotaped interviews with witnesses and survivors, as well as with war-time military and government leaders.

There work was supported by a Collaborative Fellowship of the American Council of Learned Societies, which provided funds for research visits and writing, and their book, The Asaba Massacre: Trauma, Memory, and the Nigerian Civil War, was published in August 2017 by Cambridge University Press.

The two researchers documented their travels to Nigeria on their blog: