When Sex Threatened the State: Illicit Sexuality, Nationalism, and Politics in Colonial Nigeria, 1900-1958

By Byfield, Judith A. | Canadian Journal of History, Spring-Summer 2016 | Go to article overview

When Sex Threatened the State: Illicit Sexuality, Nationalism, and Politics in Colonial Nigeria, 1900-1958


Byfield, Judith A., Canadian Journal of History


When Sex Threatened the State: Illicit Sexuality, Nationalism, and Politics in Colonial Nigeria, 1900-1958, by Saheed Aderinto. Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 2015. xviii, 241 pp. $95.00 US (cloth), $32.00 US (paper).

In seven engaging chapters and an epilogue, Saheed Aderinto has produced a very important contribution to African social history and Nigerian historiography specifically. His intellectual journey, as revealed in his introduction, is a "must read" for graduate students for this book is the outcome of a scholar who listened closely to his sources and grappled with the complex realities they revealed. Aderinto had initially planned to write a history of gender and prostitution in colonial Nigeria by examining the correlation between sex work and social class. However, as he followed his sources along the pathways they presented, he came to appreciate that to do justice to the topic he had to engage multiple archives and literatures (6-7). Sexuality was of concern to legal, medical, social welfare, and military arms of the state, as well as multiple social groups including the clergy, nationalists, elite women, village elders, and landlords. While keeping these different actors and their competing perspectives and objectives in the same frame, Aderinto provides a clear and accessible narrative that locates the evolution of prostitution and state sanctions within the changes in the larger political economy. Sexuality, and more specifically prostitution, also raises questions of morality and Aderinto illustrates throughout the text the multiple ways in which discussions about morality and prostitution were further nuanced by ideas about race, gender, and class.

Aderinto argues that African men and women were at the forefront of discussions to prohibit prostitution. Without creating monolithic or binary oppositions, he illustrates the points of conversion, overlap, and disagreement as Nigerian men, women, and different branches of the colonial state debated prostitution in public and in private. Africans too connected morality and prostitution; however, that connection unfolded in discourses that challenged colonial racism, critiqued colonial policy and practice, and anticipated a post-colonial future. The Lagos Women's League offered the first concerted effort to compel the government to prohibit prostitution (65). Motivated in part by a politics of respectability and guided by their cosmopolitan experiences in London, the Lagosian elite wanted the colonial state to invest similar levels of resources to address prostitution in Lagos. Both colonial officials and the Lagosian elite expressed moral panic about child prostitutes, and shared the developmentalist notion that mitigating adult crime required juvenile intervention (158). Whereas elite women imagined that they would play a significant role in the infrastructure created to address female delinquents, colonial officials could not imagine educated African women serving in any administrative capacity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

When Sex Threatened the State: Illicit Sexuality, Nationalism, and Politics in Colonial Nigeria, 1900-1958
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.