Rebecca Jones

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After a BA in English from the University of Cambridge, I studied for an MA in African Studies at SOAS, University of London, and a PhD in African Studies at the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham. In 2019 I was awarded a PGCHE from the University of Birmingham.

From 2012-16 I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Dr Insa Nolte and Professor Olukoya Ogen on the ERC-funded project, ‘Knowing Each Other: everyday religious encounters, social identities and tolerance in southwest Nigeria’. 

From 2016-2019 I was a Lecturer in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, where I taught undergraduate and postgraduate modules relating to African literature, culture and anthropology, and supervised undergraduate and postgraduate students.

I now work as Research and Policy Manager at the charity Working Families.

Research interests

A central part of my research is concerned with Nigerian travel writing in Yoruba and English. I am fascinated by the way that Nigerians have represented their encounters with difference within Nigeria, through travel writing. My book, At the Crossroads: Nigerian Travel Writing in Yoruba and English (James Currey, 2019) is the first book-length study of the history of Nigerian travel writing, and it was awarded an Honourable Mention in the African Literature Association First Book Award 2021.  

As African travel writers are becoming increasingly visible and are seeking to represent the continent through their own voices, my research documents a contemporary surge of interest in travel writing in Nigeria. But At the Crossroads shows how Nigerian writers have in fact been publishing travel writing for over a century, in both Yoruba and English. Through reading travel writing, we gain an important insight into how Nigerians have represented Nigeria to itself and to the world, and also into how literary and print genres emerge and develop. My research also revises the well-worn narrative that travel writing is necessarily always the West representing the rest of the world to itself.

My broader research interests include the Yoruba language and its print and literary culture, and African-authored travel writing. I am an Editor of the travel writing journal Fortunate Traveller, and an editorial board member of the blog and the Journal of African Cultural Studies.

Beyond literary culture, as a postdoctoral fellow on the ‘Knowing Each Other’ project, I researched the everyday lives of Yoruba Muslims, Christians and traditionalists. The project explored the way in which religious differences and encounters structure the experiences, perceptions and behaviours of Yoruba individuals in their everyday social identities.

As well as managing the data from the project’s large ethnographic survey and contributing to articles exploring the results of the survey in detail, I collaborated with Dr Clyde Ancarno to develop corpus-assisted analyses of both Yoruba- and English-language responses to the survey. I was also a co-editor, with Dr Insa Nolte and Prof Olukoya Ogen, of the edited volume Beyond Religious Tolerance: Muslim, Christian & Traditionalist Encounters in an African Town (James Currey, 2017) which explores inter-religious encounters in Ede, Nigeria.  

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

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Writing Domestic Travel in Yoruba and English Print Culture, Southwestern Nigeria, 1914-2014, University of Birmingham

Award Date: 1 Jan 2014


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