November 2021

CSSH congratulates Samuel Fury Childs Daly (“A Nation on Paper: Making a State in the Republic of Biafra” (CSSH 62-4, 2020)) on the publication of his new book, A History of the Republic of Biafra: Law, Crime, and the Nigerian Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2021). The publisher writes of the text:

The Republic of Biafra lasted for less than three years, but the war over its secession would contort Nigeria for decades to come. Samuel Fury Childs Daly examines the history of the Nigerian Civil War and its aftermath from an uncommon vantage point – the courtroom. Wartime Biafra was glutted with firearms, wracked by famine, and administered by a government that buckled under the weight of the conflict. In these dangerous conditions, many people survived by engaging in fraud, extortion, and armed violence. When the fighting ended in 1970, these survival tactics endured, even though Biafra itself disappeared from the map. Based on research using an original archive of legal records and oral histories, Daly catalogues how people navigated conditions of extreme hardship on the war front, and shows how the conditions of the Nigerian Civil War paved the way for the country’s long experience of crime that was to follow.

We also recognize the newest book of Wei-Ping Lin (“Conceptualizing Gods through Statues: A Study of Personification and Localization in Taiwan” (CSSH 50-2, 2008) and “Virtual Recentralization: Pilgrimage as Social Imaginary in the Demilitarized Islands between China and Taiwan,” (CSSH 56-1, 2013)). Cambridge University Press describes the book, entitled Island Fantasia: Imagining Subjects on the Military Frontline between China and Taiwan (2021), thusly:

The Matsu archipelago between China and Taiwan, for long an isolated outpost off southeast China, was suddenly transformed into a military frontline in 1949 by the Cold War and the Communist-Nationalist conflict. The army occupied the islands, commencing more than 40 long years of military rule. With the lifting of martial law in 1992, the people were confronted with the question of how to move forward. This in-depth ethnography and social history of the islands focuses on how individual citizens redefined themselves and reimagined their society. Drawing on long-term fieldwork, Wei-Ping Lin shows how islanders used both traditional and new media to cope with the conflicts and trauma of harsh military rule. She discusses the formation of new social imaginaries through the appearance of ‘imagining subjects’, interrogating their subjectification processes and varied uses of mediating technologies as they seek to answer existential questions.