“Byfield has written a meticulously documented history of women’s political activities during the first half of the twentieth century. The women of Abeokuta played a leading part in the history of economic change, nationalism, and eventual independence in colonial Nigeria, and Byfield’s study is a welcome addition to scholarly analysis of political and economic transformation in Nigeria and Africa in general during this crucial period.”
Sara Berry, professor emerita of history, Johns Hopkins University
This social and intellectual history of women’s political activism in postwar Nigeria reveals the importance of gender to the study of nationalism and poses new questions about Nigeria’s colonial past and independent future.
In the years following World War II, the women of Abeokuta, Nigeria, staged a successful tax revolt that led to the formation first of the Abeokuta Women’s Union and then of Nigeria’s first national women’s organization, the Nigerian Women’s Union, in 1949. These organizations became central to a new political vision of a way for women across Nigeria to define their interests, desires, and needs while fulfilling the obligations and responsibilities of citizenship. In The Great Upheaval, Judith A. Byfield has crafted a finely textured social and intellectual history of gender and nation making that not only tells a story of women’s postwar activism but also grounds it in a nuanced account of the complex tax system that generated the “upheaval.”
In capturing the dynamism of women’s political engagement in Nigeria’s postwar period, Byfield illuminates the centrality of gender to the study of nationalism. She thus offers new lines of inquiry into the late colonial era and its consequences for the future Nigerian state. Ultimately, she challenges readers to problematize the collapse of her female subjects' greatest aspiration, universal franchise, when the country achieved independence in 1960.
Judith A. Byfield is a professor of history at Cornell University. She is the author of The Bluest Hands: A Social and Economic History of Women Dyers in Abeokuta (Nigeria), 1890–1940 and coeditor of Global Africa: Into the Twenty-First Century, Africa and World War II and Gendering the African Diaspora: Women, Culture, and Historical Change in the Caribbean and Nigerian Hinterland. More info →
Save 20% ($64)
This book is not yet available for desk or examination copy requests. Please check back soon.
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
In Making Modern Girls, Abosede A. George examines the influence of African social reformers and the developmentalist colonial state on the practice and ideology of girlhood as well as its intersection with child labor in Lagos, Nigeria. It draws from gender studies, generational studies, labor history, and urban history to shed new light on the complex workings of African cities from the turn of the twentieth century through the nationalist era of the 1950s.
Schler’s study of Nigerian seamen during Nigeria’s transition to independence provides a fresh perspective on the meaning of decolonization for ordinary Africans. She traces the workers’ shift from optimism to disillusionment, providing a working-class perspective on nation building in Nigeria and illustrating the hopes for independence and subsequent disappointments.
In Idi Amin’s Shadow is a rich social history examining Ugandan women’s complex and sometimes paradoxical relationship to Amin’s military state. Based on more than one hundred interviews with women who survived the regime, as well as a wide range of primary sources, this book reveals how the violence of Amin’s militarism resulted in both opportunities and challenges for women.
Sign up to be notified when new African Studies titles come out.
We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.