Chika Okeke-Agulu

Professor of Art and Archaeology and African American Studies
Director, Program in African Studies
African and African Diaspora
(609) 258-7456
Email Address:
Office Location: 
3S-13 Green Hall


Ph.D., Emory University, 2004; M.F.A (painting), University of Nigeria, 1994

Chika Okeke-Agulu specializes in indigenous, modern, and contemporary African and African Diaspora art history and theory. He previously taught at The Pennsylvania State University, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. He is the author of Obiora Udechukwu: Line, Image, Text (Skira Editore, 2016); Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria (Duke, 2015); and (with Okwui Enwezor), Contemporary African Art Since 1980 (Damiani, 2010). He is coeditor of Ezumeezu: Essays on Contemporary Art and Architecture, a festschrift in Honour of Demas Nwoko (Goldline & Jacobs, 2012); and Who Knows Tomorrow (König, 2010) In 2006, he edited the first ever issue of African Arts Dedicated to African Modernism, and his writings have appeared in African Arts, Meridians: Feminism, Race, Internationalism, Artforum International, New York Times, Packett, South Atlantic Quarterly, and October. He is co-editor of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, writes for Huffington Post and maintains the blog Ọfọdunka.

In 2007, Professor Okeke-Agulu was appointed the Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History at Williams College, and Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (2008). He was a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellow (2010). Among his many awards and prizes are: Honorable Mention, The Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication (triennial) Award (Arts Council of African Studies Association, 2017); The Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the most important scholarly work in African Studies published in English during the preceding year (African Studies Association, 2016); Distinguished Alumnus Award for Outstanding Service to the Arts (The College of Arts, University of South Florida, Tampa, 2016); Frank Jewett Mather Award for Distinction in Art Criticism (College Art Association, 2016); and Outstanding Dissertation (triennial) award (Arts Council of African Studies Association, 2007). 

Okeke-Agulu serves on the board of directors of College Art Association, the advisory board of the Center for the Study of Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the executive board of Princeton in Africa, and editorial board of African Studies Review

Teaching Interests

Professor Okeke-Agulu teaches a broad range of graduate and undergraduate courses on African and African Diaspora arts. His seminars include “Art and the Lifecycle in Africa,” which examines the role of art in rites-of-passage events in various African societies; “Post-1945 African Photography”; “Art and Apartheid in South Africa,” which focuses on how art participated in the rise and fall of Apartheid; “Masking and Theory,” a study of theories of masking in Africa; “Postblack,” on racial identity in the work of contemporary African American artists; and “Art and Politics in Postcolonial Africa,” which examines the ways art and artists confront socio-political realities in African after the decade of political independence.

Current Research

He is working on a book-length study of art in during the late-20th-century military dictatorships in Nigeria, and is preparing an exhibition of the work of Nigerian artist Obiora Udechukwu.

Publications List: 
Selected Publications

Yusuf Grillo: Painting. Lagos. Life. (Skira, 2020)

Obiora Udechukwu: Line, Image, Text (Skira, 2017)

Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in 20th-Century Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2015).

“Globalization, Art History, and the Specter of Difference,” in Contemporary Art: 1989 to Present, ed. Alexander Dumbadze and Suzanne Hudson (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).

“Rethinking Mbari Mbayo: Osogbo Workshops in the 1960s, Nigeria,” in African Art and Agency in the Workshop, ed. Sidney L. Kasfir and Till Foerster (Indiana University Press, 2013).

Ezumeezu: Essays on Nigerian Art and Architecture: A Festschrift in Honour of Demas Nwoko, coedited with Obiora Udechukwu (Goldline & Jacobs, 2012).

“Ibrahim El-Salahi and Postcolonial Modernism in the Independence Decade,” in Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist, ed. Salah M. Hassan (Museum for African Art, 2012).

El Anatsui at The Clark, contributing author, with Alisa LaGamma (The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2011).

“Mark-Making and El Anatsui’s Reinvention of Sculpture,” in El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You About Africa, ed. Lisa Binder (Museum for African Art, 2010).

Phyllis Galembo: Maske, coauthored with Phyllis Galembo (Chris Boot, 2010).

Who Knows Tomorrow, coedited with Udo Kittelmann and Britta Schmitz (Walther König, 2010).

“The Art Society and the Making of Postcolonial Modernism in Nigeria,” South Atlantic Quarterly 109.3 (Summer 2010).