Fall 2016 Faculty Interview: Dr. Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome

Dr. Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College and will be teaching at the Graduate Center in Spring 2017.

Matthew Thomas: Please describe the general focus of your research and some of your past projects.
Mojúbàolú Okome: There are a number of inter-related aspects of my research and scholarship that all share a common thread in my focus on globalization. I conceive of globalization as a process that encompasses trade, colonialism, imperialism, and the influence and impact of ideas that gain global currency. My current and past work explores dimensions of globalization and consequent effects on Africans and the West. My work on immigration and globalization is interdisciplinary and timely in many respects. Most recently, in 2013 I concluded a project on state-civil society relations in postcolonial Nigeria that generated two edited volumes.
MT: You are well known for your engagement in political activism, in addition to your academic scholarship. Please tell us a bit about your recent political work.
MO: I have always been a scholar-activist, but my critical academic stance was singularly focused by the events of April 14, 2014, when 276 secondary school girls were abducted from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria by Boko Haram. The Nigerian government failed to rescue the abductees and mobilized an extremely weak response to the insurgency. This led me to found #BringBackOurGirlsNYC in consultation with the founders of the movement in Nigeria.
MT: What are some of the things you and #BringBackOurGirlsNYC have been doing to advance this goal?
MO: My ongoing work on #BringBackOurGirlsNYC is both challenging and significant as the group has lobbied Congress, New York City government as well as state elected officials and UN agencies. The group has collectively coordinated and engaged social media campaigns, organized protests, conducted media interviews, provided background information for the media, organized roundtable discussions, and organized an international conference that brought a founder of the movement from Nigeria to ensure that the Chibok girls’ rescue is kept on the international community’s agenda. In continuation of the advocacy as well as in the interest of public education, I organized a panel discussion for a parallel session of the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women meetings in March 2016 in collaboration with women’s organizations from the United States and Latin America. My research paper on the Boko Haram abductions in Northeastern Nigeria is in process for publication by Social Science Research Council’s African Peacebuilding Network.
MT: How do you see your research developing in the future?
MO: I want to continue to explore the relationship between political and economic liberalization. This is a significant research project given that a worldwide wave of political liberalization and democratization has been observed which also coincided with grave economic crisis in developing countries. It is also significant given the dialectical relationship between domestic and international pressures for policy change.