Power and public health in colonial Nigeria
The two speakers in this seminar take a fresh look at the motivations and effects of colonial public health campaigns in Nigeria, in the first half of the twentieth century.
In this seminar, Olúwaṣeun Williams will discuss the pathologisation by colonial experts of Nigerian (and other ‘tropical’) diets from the 1920s onwards, and the campaigns to ‘improve’ and modernise the diet of colonised peoples that ensued. Beneath the professed humanitarian goals of these campaigns, colonial capitalist interests held sway.
Adebisi Alade will examine colonial sanitation laws, methods of enforcement, and their unintended outcomes, in Nigeria in the early twentieth century. Public health programmes were designed to transform Africans into ‘environmentally responsible subjects,’ but the uses of state power in practice – and the complaints that they generated – highlight the complex relationships between colonisers and the colonised, and among Africans of different social classes.
Olúwaṣeun Otọsedẹ Williams, doctoral candidate, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
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