Africa at Noon on January 18, 2017

Motion Pictures, Indirect Rule, and Periliberalism in Nigeria”

Matthew H. Brown
Assistant Professor, African Cultural Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Time and Location
12:00pm, 206 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI

The British doctrine of indirect rule saved classical liberal philosophy from a conceptual crisis and propelled it through a series of global social upheavals—including WWI, the Depression, and WWII—during the first half of the twentieth century. Motion pictures made and exhibited in Nigeria reveal a remarkable consistency in the way that spectators were, and continue to be positioned in relationship to the very liberal world order that was made possible by indirect rule. In this presentation, I draw attention to the key role that Nigeria played, particularly during the interwar years, in the emergence of documentary cinema, but I also draw connections to a very different kind of motion picture, the Nollywood video film, which addresses its spectators in ways that, surprisingly, resonate with early liberal documentaries.

Brown is a specialist of African screen media, with a focus on Nigeria, including colonial cinema, state television, and video film (or Nollywood). He also writes about African literature and popular music. His teaching includes courses on African screen media, African oral traditions, African literature, and melodrama.