Universiteit Leiden

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ASCL Seminar: Subaltern Metropolitan Adventure and Colonial Mediation in Nigeria

Thursday 7 April 2022
Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

This event will take place online. Registrees will receive a link to the online platform one day before the start of the event. Please register via the ASCL website.

Scholars of empire recognise the scholarly value of the writings of European colonial traveler-ethnographers on African societies for their embodiment of the so-called “imperial gaze.” Drawn from a larger monographic project, this presentation reveals what emerges when we flip the inquiry to consider how colonised African elites who traveled to European colonial countries for sightseeing portrayed metropolitan cultures and peoples in their writings to African audiences. The focus in this presentation is on emirs and aristocrats from Northern Nigeria, who traveled to Britain between 1920 and 1960 for touristic adventures and returned with stories and metropolitan goods, penning Hausa and English language travelogues and giving public lectures on their experiences and observations in Britain. The paper posits this traveling, writing, and speaking endeavor as a form of colonial mediation.


Moses E. Ochonu is Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in History and Professor of African History, Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Colonialism by Proxy: Hausa Imperial Agents and Middle Belt Consciousness in Nigeria (Indiana University Press, 2014), which was named finalist for the Herskovits Prize; Colonial Meltdown: Northern Nigeria in the Great Depression (Ohio University Press, 2009); and Africa in Fragments (Diasporic Africa Press, 2014). He is the editor of African Entrepreneurship (Indiana University Press, 2018). His book Emirs in London: Subaltern Travel and Nigeria’s Modernity, will be published by Indiana University Press in 2022. 

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