The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia

Somotan

"I am a doctoral candidate in the history department at Columbia University, and my research interests are in the social and urban history of Africa. My dissertation, “‘In the Wider Interests of Nigeria as a Whole’: Lagos and the Making of Federal Nigeria, 1941-76,” examines how working-class and elite residents of Lagos, as well as federal and local bureaucrats, negotiated the transition of Lagos from the colonial capital into the metropolis of independent Nigeria. It investigates how urban dwellers engaged policies such as urban planning and rent control from the late colonial period until the post-independent era. Residents from market women, indigenous groups to tenants, struggled with each other and with town planners, city council workers, and federal politicians to influence the administration of the city. I argue that the competing interests and initiatives of residents and state leaders shaped the implementation and outcomes of policies that satisfied the needs of some people to the detriment of others. For instance, while rent control laws of the 1950s and 1960s endorsed tenants’ advocacy for cheaper rents, the same rules marginalized landlords’ demand for reduced cost of building materials and property taxes. Even though rent control did not curb the soaring prices of rent, it forced landlords and tenants to reinvent different ways to secure housing. By studying the roles of the city dwellers in shaping urban policies, my research departs from the scholarly conclusions that state actors dictated the planning and administration of post-independent Lagos. This project draws from oral interviews, archival resources such as newspapers, petitions, novels, and photographs to illustrate how the actions of multiple people influenced the transformation of the city."

First Name: 
Halimat
Position: 
Pre-Doctoral (African History)
Photo: 
Classification: 
Institution: 
Columbia University