Insa Nolte

Prof

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I supervise doctoral research students working on African and Nigerian history, politics, gender and religion. Recent and current supervision topics include ethno-religious conflict and women’s lives in the Nigerian Middle Belt, The portrayal of Pentecostalism and traditional religion in Edo language popular video films, Local Debates and Struggles over 'Prostitution' in Southern Nigeria, 1890-1960, and Modernisation, Bureaucracy and Traditional rule in Ghana: The case of the Otumfuo Education Fund.

20012023

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Personal profile

Research interests

My research focuses on the role of everyday life for the political and religious history of the Yoruba-speaking Southwest of Nigeria. My early research interest focused on the history and politics of Ijebu-Remo, the home area of the Nigerian nationalist and Yoruba leader Obafemi Awolowo. I have also published more generally on local-level mobilisation and resistance in Nigerian political history.

My current work focuses on the social and political relationships between members of different religions in southwest Nigeria, where Traditionalists, Muslims and Christians have lived together for several generations. Moreover, many families include Muslims and Christians, and there are many Muslim-Christian marriages, most of which are between Muslim men and Christian women. I am interested in the historical patterns of gendered and religious preference and the accommodation of religious difference in marriage and extended family life.

You can see a short recording of me speaking about my research here at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin website.

The disciplinary divisions in modern academia do not always reflect the conceptual histories of African societies, and most of my own research straddles history and anthropology. But I believe strongly in the importance of contextual data which is often taken for granted in wealthy countries, and I have also carried out inter- and multidisciplinary research beyond these disciplines. In the context of an ERC grant, my colleague Olukoya Ogen and I organised the first large-n survey on religious identification and attitudes in southwest Nigeria since 1963 in 2012-14, and I have worked with fellow anthropologists, statisticians, and linguists to publish data produced by the survey.

Biography

After a first degree at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, I joined the Centre of West African Studies at the University of Birmingham as a PhD student under the supervision of Paulo de Moraes Farias and Karin Barber. After my graduation, I held the Kirk-Greene Junior Research Fellowship at St Antony’s College, Oxford. I returned to Birmingham to take up a lectureship in the Department for African Studies and Anthropology in 2001, where I am now a Professor.

I work closely with African colleagues and institutions and am a Research Professor at Osun State University, Nigeria, since 2013. In 2016-18 I served as President of the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK) before taking on the role of Head of Department in 2018-21. I am currently the recipient of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship and, during the 2022-23 academic year, a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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