PhD Oral Exam - Olumayowa Francis Ajayi, Humanities
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
Interdisciplinary in orientation, this study draws knowledge from the fields of Translation Studies, History and Political Science in a bid to explore the interplay between translation and nationalism in a sub-Saharan African context. More specifically, the current research focuses on the Nigerian experience of nationhood and seeks to investigate the effect(s) of translation on the construction of a psychological notion of nationalism that aligns with the concept of the nation as an imagined community. The research upon which this study rests makes use of the socio-historical approach to translation theory and practice, which privileges such questions as what was translated, by whom and in what social and political contexts. The findings point to
the existence of several notions and experiences of translation that are specific to oralate communities, and further buttress the argument that Western conventions, despite their major contributions to knowledge, do not sufficiently account for the cultural sensibilities that animate the practice of translation in national contexts that boast a robust historical and ongoing relationship with orality. What’s more, the current study reveals the roles played by precolonial translation practices in the sustenance of the prevailing religious and cultural traditions, which in turn helped corral the precolonialnation’s inhabitants into a non-coerced form of social conformity and consciousness.
Translation would subsequently replace the precolonial model of nationhood with a national imagination that was steeped in British colonial paradigms and fashioned to meet the ends of colonial nationalism. In the Nigerian postcolony, the role of translation in fashioning an anti-imperialist literary discourse as well as the production of fictional representations of contemporary social realities has spurred “national texts,” which have not only resonated within the consciousnesses of the nation’s diverse peoples, but have also inspired them to think of themselves as members of the same community.This sense of community has, however, been fraught with myriad problems, such as translation’s involvement in the consolidation and promotion of the Northern reality of Islamic fundamentalism and conservatism, which has, over the centuries, pulled most of the inhabitants of the Northern half of the nation-space into a regional sub-culture that is buoyed by ideological forces operating out of the Arabian peninsula. Translation has therefore facilitated a conflicting experience of nationhood in the contemporary nation-space that is deeply rooted in a historical legacy of religious and cultural alterity.