Prof. Dr. Olufunmilayo B. Arewa

Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, USA

Curriculum Vitae

Prof. Dr. Olufunmilayo B. Arewa is holder of the Murray H. Shusterman Professorship of Transactional and Business Law at the Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, USA. She studied anthropology at Harvard College and the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her doctorate degree in 1986 with a dissertation entitled "Tarzan, Primus inter Primates: Difference and Hierarchy in Popular Culture". In addition, Olufunmilayo B. Arewa holds a master’s degree in Applied Economics from the University of Michigan and a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School. Following her J.D., she was a visiting lecturer at the Center for Afro-American and African Studies (CAAS) at the University of Michigan and a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University. She has also served as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. and Montevideo, Uruguay. After receiving her J.D., she worked as a lawyer at law firms and companies in Silicon Valley and New York. She also served as Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel of a venture capital firm in Boston. Prior to becoming a Professor of Law at Temple University in Philadelphia in 2018, she worked as an Assistant Professor at the Case School of Law in Cleveland, as an Associate Professor at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, and a Professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, where she held a courtesy appointment in Anthropology. In 2015, she was a visiting scholar at Humboldt University in Berlin. Furthermore, she has served as a consultant for the World Bank Group and as a Vice-Chairman of the Nigeria Copyright Expert Working Group.

Her research interests include law and culture, music and film, African studies, as well as technology, business and copyright law.

From May to July 2019 she was a Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg "Recht als Kultur" in Bonn.

Research project

"Disruptive Technologies, Digital Colonialism, and the Construction of Commercial Law in Africa"

Professor Arewa’s research project is part of ongoing research for a book entitled Disrupting Africa: Technology, Law and Development (under contract with Cambridge University Press). Her research and scholarship are interdisciplinary and rest at the intersection of law and cultural studies, including aspects of both the social sciences and the humanities.  Within these broader subject matters, her research has centered around several topics, including music, film, technology, business law, and Africana Studies. Her research project deals with sociocultural factors relevant to the formation and operation of legal frameworks in Africa.

A technology revolution has swept across many countries in Africa in recent years. This influx of new technologies has been to a significant degree disruptive. A number of policymakers and commentators implicitly assume that the impact of such new technologies will be positive. Although the ultimate effects of new technologies may be uncertain, existing governance practices and institutions in many African countries may give pause to optimistic assumptions. Technology diffusion in countries in Africa and elsewhere has been shaped by institutions in turn influenced by history, politics, culture, law, business, and other factors. In many African countries, the introduction of new technologies draws attention to patterns of lawmaking within Africa, particularly in the commercial law arena. Some of these patterns reflect familiar configurations evident elsewhere in the world as new technologies confront laws and regulations that were constructed without contemplation of the broad range of new technologies that now exist. The at times poor fit of existing laws and regulations for new technologies is an issue of ongoing discussion and at times contestation globally. In addition to such acknowledged problems, the dissemination of new technologies in Africa may also highlight a range of legal concerns that are less familiar, at least in many developed countries. This second set of concerns relates to ongoing colonial legacies, which are by no means limited to law. Historical legacies of colonialism raise questions about the influence of external forces in Africa in the digital era and the extent to which technology disruption has come with new patterns of digital colonialism. Based on extensive archival work reviewing colonial records, Professor Arewa’s research project addresses questions related to technology disruption, digital colonialism, and commercial law in Africa.

Publications (selected)

  • Investment Funds, Inequality and Scarcity of Opportunity, BOSTON UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW (2019)
  • Accounting for Injustice? AFTRA, Work, and Singers, in THE OXFORD HANDBOOK OF MUSIC LAW AND POLICY (co-author: Matt Stahl) (Sean O’Connor, ed., forthcoming)
  • Law and the Regulation of New Technologies in Africa in THE HANDBOOK OF AFRICAN LAW (co-author: Ayodeji Fakolade) (forthcoming)
  • Zombies, Ghosts and Hollywood Accounting: Intangibles and Intellectual Property Strategies in INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY STRATEGIES IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD (Alexandre Quiquerez & José Augusto Fontoura Costa, eds., 2019)
  • Copyright and Cognition: Musical Practice and Music Perception, ST. JOHN’S LAW REVIEW (2017)
  • Nollywood Pirates and Nigerian Cinema, in CREATIVITY WITHOUT LAW: HOW COMMUNITIES AND MARKETS CHALLENGE THE ASSUMPTIONS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW (Kate Darling & Aaron Perzanowsky, eds., NYU Press 2016)
  • Book Review, The Spirit of the Laws in Mozambique, Juan Obarrio, 43 AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST (2016)
  • Constructing Africa: Chinese Investment, Infrastructure Deficits, and Development, 49 CORNELL INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL 101 (2016)
  • Nollywood and African Cinema: Cultural Diversity and the Global Entertainment Industry, in PROTECTING AND PROMOTING DIVERSITY WITH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW (Irene Calboli & Srividhya Ragavan, eds., 2015, Cambridge University Press)
  • A Musical Work is a Set of Instructions, 52 HOUSTON LAW REVIEW 467 (2014)
  • Enduring Hierarchies in American Legal Education (co-authors: Andrew Morriss and William Henderson), 89 INDIANA LAW JOURNAL 941 (2014)
  • Making Music: Copyright and Creative Processes, in THE BLACKWELL COMPANION TO MEDIA AUTHORSHIP (Jonathan Gray and Derek Johnson, eds., 2013)
  • Intellectual Property and Conceptions of Culture, WIPO JOURNAL SPECIAL ISSUE (2012)
  • Creativity, Improvisation, and Risk:  Copyright and Musical Innovation, 86 NOTRE DAME LAW REVIEW 1828 (2011)