Insa Nolte

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

My research focuses on the importance of private and everyday life for wider social relations and political processes in the Yoruba-speaking Southwest of Nigeria. My current work centres on encounters and relations between Yoruba Muslims, Christians, and traditionalists, and explores religion and gender in multi-religious marriages and family life.

All research on African societies requires both interdisciplinary engagement and collaboration with colleagues and institutions on the African continent, as well as broader international networks. As the resources for such collaborations often depend on external funding in the UK, I have raised £1.37m in funding over the course of my career, the majority of which came from an ERC Starting Researcher Grant (2012-17). Entitled 'Knowing Each Other: everyday religious encounters, social identities and tolerance in southwest Nigeria', the project was based at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and, in collaboration with Professor Olukoya Ogen, at Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Nigeria,


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 to work on the history and politics of Ijebu-Remo the home area of the important Nigerian Nationalist politician Obafemi Awolowo, 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 Reader. I have been Head of Department since January 2018.

Willingness to take 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.