My book titled, Beauty Diplomacy: Embodying an Emerging Nation examines the Nigerian beauty pageant industry to argue that Nigeria’s shifting trajectory from a post-independence nation to an emerging nation remains shaped by the social divisions within Nigeria and its place within the international political economy. Beauty pageants serve as a microcosm of this dual process of navigating national unity and asserting global dominance. Drawing from fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork and a comparative-case research design, I look at the varied articulations of Nigerian nationhood, which remain linked to gendered representations, cultural production, political contestation, and economic interests in Nigeria.
I focus on how Nigerian beauty pageants: (1) project a cohesive national identity in a multiethnic and multi-religious society (2) craft a narrative of unique nationhood while being part of the global arena; and (3) manage local adaptation and resistance to globalization. By comparing these contests—their content, structure, and associated discourses—I theorize nationalism as a multilayered process informed by local and global processes.