When Sex Threatened the State

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

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Breaking new ground in the understanding of sexuality's complex relationship to colonialism, When Sex Threatened the State illuminates the attempts at regulating prostitution in colonial Nigeria. As Saheed Aderinto shows, British colonizers saw prostitution as an African form of sexual primitivity and a problem to be solved as part of imperialism's "civilizing mission". He details the Nigerian response to imported sexuality laws and the contradictory ways both African and British reformers advocated for prohibition or regulation of prostitution. Tracing the tensions within diverse groups of colonizers and the colonized, he reveals how wrangling over prostitution camouflaged the negotiating of separate issues that threatened the social, political, and sexual ideologies of Africans and Europeans alike. The first book-length project on sexuality in early twentieth century Nigeria, When Sex Threatened the State combines the study of a colonial demimonde with an urban history of Lagos and a look at government policy to reappraise the history of Nigerian public life.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 557.92g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 8 black and white photographs, 9 tables
  • 0252038886
  • 9780252038884

Review quote

"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... Of great value to scholars interested in public health, colonial law and policy, gender studies, as well as urban history."--Canadian Journal of History "Saheed Aderinto's fine book demonstrates how the politics, policies, and popular culture debates about sexuality both animated and crystalized many of the ambitions and struggles of colonial and nationalist projects in twentieth-century Nigeria... Particularly persuasive is the author's ability to show how concerns about illicit sexuality could be simultaneously a colonial rationale for subjugating the native population and a pillar of Nigerian nationalists' demands for independence... It certainly shows that concerns about illicit sexuality continue to be central to postcolonial statecraft, just as Aderinto has persuasively demonstrated for Nigeria's colonial and nationalist projects in this excellent book."--International Journal of African Historical Studies "This book makes important inroads in the history of sexuality and gender, childhood, urban history, colonialism, the military, and the history of medicine in Africa and in twentieth-century world history."--American Historical Review "This noteworthy text brings to light the intimate connection between sexual politics and nationalism in colonial Nigeria during the first half of the twentieth century... A solid contribution to scholarly works on sexuality in Africa and is of interest to scholars and students in the fields of African studies, gender, and history."--Journal of West African History "The first comprehensive history of sexuality of colonial Nigeria, Aderinto's book is an invaluable addition to both historiographies of colonial Africa and African sexualities."--Notches: (re)marks on the history of sexuality "Aderinto's exploration of the special role of soldiers in the history of prostitution control in Lagos is especially fascinating and insightful."--Africashow more

About Saheed Aderinto

Saheed Aderinto is an assistant professor of history at Western Carolina University and co-author of Nigeria, Nationalism, and Writing History.show more