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Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture 2023: The Place of Archives in Modern African Studies: A Searchlight on the Patronage of National Archives of Nigeria, Ibadan

  • Dr Mercy Iroaganachi
Thursday 7 December 2023
Pieter de la Courtgebouw
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

The 2023 Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture will be given by Mercy Ariomerebi Iroaganachi, University Librarian of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Stephen Ellis, a prominent historian of Africa, made extensive use of the National Archives of Nigeria at Ibadan. Notable are the materials used for his last book (published posthumously in 2016): This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organised Crime. Archives constitute a significant aspect of academia and an important source for researchers. Thus the focus of the 2023 Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture will be on the user side, with the central question: how to do critical, reliable research on Africa, making use of African archival collections?

Using archival collections for critical and reliable research on Africa is largely determined by the state of, access to, and representation of the archives, as well as by the researcher’s disposition. Notable researchers across Africa, and particularly Nigeria, have decried the limitations of not just having access to records held in the archives, but their extant deteriorating state in this age of technological advancement when informative documents are digitised for seamless access.

In view of the foregoing, this lecture will address the state of the National Archives of Nigeria at Ibadan and the imperatives of archival records to modern African studies. What is the representation policy of the Ibadan Archives? What are the dangers of producing uncritical history from archival records? According to Stephen Ellis, archives are sources of power and contestation and must be subjected to objectivity test. At the same time, the lecture will highlight the fascinating force that sustains usage of archives for modern African studies by scholars like Stephen Ellis.

Preliminary programme:

18:00 Opening by Prof. Marleen Dekker, Director of the ASCL.

18:05 Introduction by Dr Akinyinka Akinyoade, Chair of the ASCL Researcher's Assembly.

18:10 Lecture by Dr Mercy Iroaganachi: 'A Searchlight on the Patronage of National Archives of Nigeria, Ibadan’.

18:35 Presentation by Prof. Chibuike Uche, chairholder of the Stephen Ellis Chair: 'Thirty Years of Archival Research: some personal reflections'.

18:50 Presentation of the Stephen Ellis archives by Jos Damen.

19:00 Q&A.

19:45 Closing.

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