The print culture that Europe introduced to the world allowed other cultures to showcase their own modernity. Yoruba people use the words “olaju” (opening of the eye) and “ilosiwaju” (progress) to describe ideas around modernity. Both words have been in use before the arrival of the printing press in Africa, so therefore the idea of modernity for the Yoruba people did not emanate from the project of colonial modernity. There is no study yet that examined how networks of people with shared and sometimes diverged interests in journalism and literature managed to change the course of Yoruba and Nigerian history through the printing press. This project fills this research gap by looking at over 150 years of print culture in the Yoruba-speaking region of Nigeria, and its cross-cultural connections. It is important because of its articulation of the relationship between transcontinental print networks (between Lagos and London, for instance) and local contexts of production. It aims to uncover a robust history of West African engagements with modernity and the project can be a starting point for articulating Nigerian literary history. Working with local researchers and archivists, it will examine arguably the largest collection of rare samples ever undertaken by researchers working on print cultures in Nigeria. The methodologies will include network analysis, cultural criticism, media studies and political theory from a postcolonial perspective. Since these methodologies will produce data and literary theories - and display them on different platforms including social media and blogs - the final results will allow researchers and students from all over the world, to see the role that Yoruba print culture played in the World Republic of Letters. And as parts of the research materials are precarious and endangered, its final outcome will help to preserve knowledge about Yoruba modern history, which is currently in danger of being lost forever.
Fields of science
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