Academic journal article History In Africa

Researching Colonial Childhoods: Images and Representations of Children in Nigerian Newspaper Press, 1925-1950

Academic journal article History In Africa

Researching Colonial Childhoods: Images and Representations of Children in Nigerian Newspaper Press, 1925-1950

Article excerpt

Abstract: This article takes an introductory excursion into newspaper sources for researching Nigerian children's history during the colonial period by analyzing and describing items including news, editorials, stories, photos, advertisements, columns, debates, features, and letters among others. It situates these newspaper sources within the context of the circumstances under which they were produced and the prevailing politics of identity, gender, and agency, on the one hand, and the interaction between the forces of "tradition" and "modernity" on the other. Instead of approaching children's experience from the well-established standpoints of disease, violence, delinquency and crime, this paper examines the following areas: children and education; children and motherhood; and children as consumers. These uncharted areas of Nigerian children's history render alternative and useful perspectives on agency and the centrality of childhood to colonial state's ideas of progress, civilization, modernity, and social stability.

Résumé: Cet article relate une exploration initiale à travers des sources journalistiques pour effectuer une recherche sur l'histoire des enfants du Nigeria pendant la période coloniale par la description et l'analyse entre autres de nouvelles, d'éditoriaux, d'histoires, de photos, de publicités, de rubriques, de débats, de chroniques, et de lettres. L'article situe ces sources journalistiques dans le contexte et les circonstances dans lesquels elles ont été produites: l'opinion politique dominante concernant les questions d'identité, de relation entre les sexes, et d'organisation d'un côté, et de l'autre, l'interaction entre les forces de "tradition" et de "modernité." Au lieu de considérer le monde de l'enfance sous les angles constamment explorés de la maladie, de la violence, de la délinquance et du crime, cet exposé examine les domaines suivants: les enfants dans l'éducation; les enfants et l'expérience maternelle; et enfin les enfants en tant que consommateurs. L'investigation de ces domaines non encore explorés de l'histoire des enfants du Nigeria permet l'émergence de perspectives utiles et différentes concernant la relevance et l'importance du domaine de l'enfance dans la construction des idées propagées par l'état colonial sur la notion de progrès, de civilisation, de modernité, et de stabilité sociale.

Introduction1*

Reference to children in Africanist literature is legion; but works that critically place childhood at the center of historical inquiry are few. Indeed, children's history has yet to take a firm root as a sub-field of African history despite the recent appearance of literature dealing with the colonial era.1 Most of works on this aspect of African experience have come from the social sciences: anthropology, psychology, sociology, and political science. And have been influenced by post-colonial quagmires of child soldier and labor, poverty, disease and HIV/AIDS pandemic, and crime and delinquency.2 As highly useful as social-science centered scholarships are, critical knowledge of children's experience under colonialism and the changing definition of childhood since the precolonial period is important in unveiling the genesis of some of the problems confronting African children today. For instance through the innovative scholarship of Abosede George and Beverley Grier, we now know the transformation that child "labor" has taken since the precolonial times; and that children have been an integral but "invisible" category of workforce.3 Hence capitalist expropriation of children's labor is not a "new" ethical and development challenge in postcolonial Africa. Laurent Fourchard's and Simon Heap's works on youth delinquency have provided the much needed colonial root of urban vagrancy and juvenile delinquency in contemporary Nigeria.4 Yet, as we are going to see, African children's encounters with colonialism transcend socially constructed problems of labor, delinquency, and vagrancy. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.