Added: June 4, 2016 – Last updated: October 1, 2016


Author: Saheed Aderinto

Title: When Sex Threatened the State

Subtitle: Illicit Sexuality, Nationalism, and Politics in Colonial Nigeria, 1900-1958

Place: Urbana, IL

Publisher: University of Illinois Press

Year: 2015

Pages: 264pp.

ISBN-13: 9780252038884 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780252080425 (paper) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780252096846 (ebook) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | African History: Nigerian History | Types: Child Prostitution



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Author: Saheed Aderinto, Department of History, Western Carolina


  List of Illustrations (p. ix)
  List of Tables (p. xi)
  Acknowledgments (p. xiii)
  List of Abbreviations (p. xvii)
  Introduction: Sex and Sexuality in African Colonial Encounter (p. 1)
    When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted (p. 1)
    A "Total" History of Sexuality? (p. 6)
    The Idea of the Erotic Child (p. 11)
    Sexualized Nationalism and Selective Modernity (p. 13)
    A Note on Sources and Methodologies (p. 16)
    The Chapters in Brief (p. 20)
  Chapter 1. "This Is a City of Bubbles": Lagos and the Phenomenon of Colonial Urbanism (p. 24)
    A "No-Man's Land" (p. 25)
    Lagos and the Phenomenon of Colonial Urbanism (p. 27)
    Urban Life, Selective Modernity, and Class Conflict (p. 35)
    "No Nigerian Is a Foreigner in Lagos" (p. 40)
    Race and Racial Relations in the Colony (p. 44)
    Conclusion (p. 47)
  Chapter 2. "The Vulgar and Obscene Language": Prostitution, Criminality, and Immorality (p. 49)
    Unveiling the Akunakuna (p. 51)
    The Oko Ashewo and the John Bulls (p. 58)
    The "Dirty" Language of Sex (p. 65)
    Juvenile Delinquency, Crime, and Imperial Security (p. 67)
    Conclusion (p. 71)
  Chapter 3. Childhood Innocence, Adult Criminality: Child Prostitution and Moral Anxiety (p. 73)
    Identifying and Defining a Child Prostitute (p. 75)
    Becoming a Child Prostitute (p. 78)
    The Child Prostitutes at Work (p. 84)
    Racial Science, Cultural Backwardness, and Environmental Determinism (p. 88)
    Conclusion (p. 91)
  Chapter 4. The Sexual Scourge of Imperial Order: Race, the Medicalization of Sex, and Colonial Security (p. 93)
    The Colonial Army and Sexualized Masculinity (p. 95)
    Civilians and Racialized Sexuality (p. 101)
    Nigeria's First Venereology Scheme (p. 106)
    Obscene Literature, Dangerous Sexuality (p. 108)
    Conclusion (p. 111)
  Chapter 5. Sexualized Laws, Criminalized Bodies: Anti-prostitution Law and the Making of a New Socio-Sexual Order (p. 113)
    Adult Prostitution and Vagrancy Laws (p. 115)
    Child Prostitutes and the Criminal Justice System (p. 120)
    Venereal Disease, Biomedicine, and the Law (p. 127)
    Ethnicity and the Politics of Sex (p. 130)
    Conclusion (p. 133)
  Chapter 6. Men, Masculinities, and the Politics of Sexual Control (p. 135)
    The Print Media, Racial Politics, and Anti-Prostitution Laws (p. 136)
    Between Prohibition and Regulation (p. 140)
    Child Prostitution and the Age of Consent Controversy (p. 145)
    VD Laws, Nationalism, and the Politics of Economic Survival (p. 149)
    Lagosians and the VD Clinic (p. 152)
    Conclusion (p. 154)
  Chapter 7. Lagos Elite Women and the Struggle for Legitimacy (p. 156)
    The Elite Women and Their Prohibitionist Agenda (p. 158)
    The Police Women Controversy (p. 160)
    The Politics of Rehabilitating Girls in Moral Danger (p. 163)
    Understanding of the Politics of Rehabilitating Girls in Moral Danger (p. 166)
    Conclusion (p. 167)
  Epilogue: Prostitution and Trafficking in the Age of HIV/AIDS (p. 170)
    From Prohibition to Toleration: Reversing the Colonial Status Quo (p. 171)
    The Politics of Transnational Prostitution in the Fourth Republic (p. 175)
    Prostitution and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic (p. 178)
    Conclusion (p. 181)
  Notes (p. 183)
  Bibliography (p. 217)
    Archives (p. 217)
    Newspapers (p. 218)
    Published Primary Documents (p. 218)
    Videos (p. 219)
    Books, Articles, and Dissertations (p. 219)
  Index (p. 237)


»British colonizers saw prostitution as a distinctively African form of sexual primitivity and as a problem to be solved as part of the "civilizing mission" they used to morally justify imperialism. Saheed Aderinto details the Nigerian response to imported sexuality laws and the contradictory ways both British and African reformers advocated for prohibition or regulation of prostitution. Tracing the tensions within diverse groups of colonizers and the colonized to highlight their concerns, he reveals how wrangling over prostitution camouflaged the negotiating of separate issues that threatened the social, political, and sexual ideologies of Africans and Europeans alike.
The first book-length project on sexuality in early twentieth century Nigeria, When Sex Threatened the State combines the study of a colonial demimonde with an urban history of Lagos and a look at government policy to provide a cutting-edge reappraisal of the history of Nigerian public life.« (Source: University of Illinois Press)


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Mougoué, Jacqueline-Bethel. Journal of West African History 2(1) (Spring 2016): 211-214. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Ray, Carina. Journal of the History of Sexuality 25(3) (September 2016): 508-510. – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access), University of Texas Press (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: History of Africa: History of Nigeria / Colonial Nigeria | Prostitution: Prostitution of children