Yoruba Print Culture: Network and Modernities, 1852-Present

July 2021 to June 2026
African language literature
digital humanities
book culture
African cultures
Yoruba print culture
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) (Nigeria)
University of Ibadan (Nigeria)
University of Ghana (Ghana)
Research fields
Languages and Literatures

While several studies have been done on Yoruba culture and oral history, 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 Yoruba-speaking region of Nigeria, and its cross-cultural connection with other cultural forms. The hypotheses of this study are that the contribution of Yoruba print culture to the emergence of new cultural forms – especially in literature and the performing arts sectors - is yet to be fully exploited and explained by researchers because they have concentrated on a small range of research materials. Due to its uniqueness, this culture constitutes a starting point for articulating the idea of modernity in a Nigerian context and for understanding contemporary literary history in Nigeria. As the precursor to the recruitment of Yoruba people into the European modernity project, Yoruba print cult is important not only because it was founded at the heart of the European colonial project, with its literature becoming a major medium of anti-colonial struggle, but also because it uncovers a robust history of urban engagements with modernity. Additionally, contemporary ideas about Christianity and Islam in Nigeria, especially in Yoruba speaking states, are foregrounded in Yoruba print culture because it started the debate on what constitutes the arts of being Yoruba. My project provides a unique avenue for scholars, journalists, and people from all walks of life, to understand the way in which print culture – with networks of mostly men - changed African societies, particularly those that constitute ethnic groups. 

At the heart of this study is the combination of research methods that captures the way in which networks emerged from Yoruba print culture since the 1850s. This project will work with local researchers and archivists,