African Studies Colloquium Series

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 | 3:30-5:00 pm

Dr. Judith Byfield -- Women, War and Rice: World War II and Abeokuta (Nigeria)

My research interests have evolved over time.  I began with a very strong interest in African art and literature and gradually added  the colonial state, nationalism, women's history, and the African Diaspora, specifically the Anglophone Caribbean.  Most of my research and writing thus far has focused on women's social and economic history in colonial Nigeria.  My first book, The Bluest Hands: A Social and Economic History of Women Indigo Dyers in Western Nigeria, brought many of my interests together for it examined the transformation of indigo dyeing and textile production in Abeokuta, a town famous for its indigo dyed cloth, adire.  It illuminated the ways in which the colonial state transformed women's economic life as well as the ways women navigated the new economic landscape and pressed the colonial state to protect their livelihoods.  My current manuscript, The Great Upheaval: Women, Taxes and Nationalist Politics in Nigeria, 1945-1951,  explores a women's tax revolt in Abeokuta after WW II, and follows the projection of this political episode unto the national stage as the organization that led the tax revolt grew into a national women's organization that tried to shape the nationalist movement. 

My courses reflect the full range of my interests.  They include lecture courses on Caribbean history,  Africa After 1800,  Popular Culture in Africa as well as seminars on a range of topics - Nationalism and Decolonization; Marriage and Divorce; Cloth, Dress and Identity.

229A New Cabell Hall