Gbemisola Abiola is a doctoral candidate at Harvard’s African and African-American Studies program, where she has a disciplinary focus in Social Anthropology, as well as other concentrations in Religion and Women and Gender Studies. Her research interests include post (post) colonial studies, African literature, African political thought, war studies, and critical terrorism studies.
Her doctoral research focuses on terrorism in northeastern Nigeria. Her research interrogates the role religious ideology, cultural modes, and the logics of power, politics and ethnicity play in the emergence and continuous existence of substate groups in northeastern Nigeria, specifically Boko Haram. In particular, her research aims at exploring the grammars with which different publics articulate the phenomenon that is Boko Haram as well as deciphering the ways they comprehend the group’s motives for terrorism.
Gbemisola holds an M.A in Literature from the University of Lagos where she did a study of the portrait of child soldiers fiction via a comparative reading of Uzodinma Iweala’s Beasts of no Nation and Ahmadou Kourouma’s Allah is not Obliged. She also has a B.A in English, with a concentration in African and English literature from the University of Lagos.
Her current research project focuses on challenging the portrait of Boko Haram as a religious fundamentalist group in popular media. Her research seeks to argue that the indiscriminate attacks on both Muslims and Christians, churches and mosques and notably also, schools engender many questions that raise doubts on the ascription of the emergence of the group to fundamentalism alone. Her work will argue that a critical investigation of the historical context vis-à-vis the actions of BH is not only crucial to understanding what Boko Haram's version of terrorism means in Northeastern Nigeria, it will place the Nigerian government's (both past and present administration's) anti-terrorism efforts in the appropriate context.