Dr Rebecca Jones

Dr Rebecca Jones

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Research Fellow
Lecturer in African Studies from January 2017

Contact details

I am a scholar of Nigerian print, literary and popular cultures in the Yoruba and English languages, with an emphasis on archival research and on literary and popular texts that are published and circulating mainly within Nigeria. My research sits on the intersection between literary studies and anthropology; I am interested in how literary print cultures, genres, readers and writers emerge and develop, while also keeping what texts themselves say at the heart of my research.

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. As African travel writers are becoming increasingly visible and are seeking to represent the continent through their own voices, my research documents the rise of the travel writing genre in Nigeria. But my research – the first study of the history of Nigerian travel writing – shows how Nigerian writers have in fact been publishing travel writing for over a century, in both Yoruba and English. Through reading their 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.

I am also currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working 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’. The project centres on the everyday lives of Yoruba Muslims, Christians and traditionalists, and it explores the way in which religious differences and encounters structure the experiences, perceptions and behaviours of Yoruba individuals in their everyday social identities. My research as part of the Knowing Each Other project allows me to explore in further detail how Yoruba-speakers manage encounters with difference within Nigeria.

My broader research interests include the Yoruba language and its print and literary culture, and African-authored travel writing. I blog at AfricainWords.com, of which I am currently the Managing Editor. I tweet @Rebeccasenoj.


  • BA Hons English, University of Cambridge
  • MA African Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • PhD African Studies, University of Birmingham


After a first degree in English at New Hall (now Murray Edwards College), University of Cambridge, I studied for an MA in African Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where I first learnt Yoruba.

I began my PhD at the Department of African Studies and Anthropology in 2009. During the course of my PhD I spent several months in Nigeria, principally at Obafemi Awolowo University and the University of Ibadan, where I undertook archival research and interviewed writers, as well as further improving my Yoruba. I was awarded my PhD in 2014. 

In 2012, I also joined the 'Knowing Each Other' team as a Research Fellow. I am currently undertaking post-doctoral research as a member of the ‘Knowing Each Other’ team, a position that has allowed me to build on my knowledge of Yoruba-speaking Nigeria and the ways Nigerians understand Nigeria’s internal diversity.  


As a researcher on the ERC project ‘Knowing Each Other,’ I work with the rest of the team to research everyday religious interactions in south-west Nigeria. I particularly work on qualitative and quantitative analysis of fieldwork results, including a large-scale survey and interviews carried out in south-west Nigeria by our project team. I am interested in how knowledge of others is generated through encounters, whether in person or through texts.

Along with Dr Insa Nolte and Prof Olukoya Ogen, I have co-edited a book called Beyond Religious Tolerance which examines the people of the town of Ede, in southwestern Nigeria, negotiate religious difference in their everyday lives. 

I am also presently writing a monograph on the history of Nigerian travel writing, in Yoruba and English. This book, based on my doctoral research, is the first history of Nigerian-authored travel writing. It explores the ways that Nigerians have represented Nigeria to themselves and others, from 1914-2014, and it approaches ‘travel writing’ across genres, from newspaper serials to blogs, novels to historical writing.   

I am also interested in African-authored travel writing more broadly, and in 2016 I organised the ‘African Travel Writing Encounters’ conference here in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology. This conference brought together scholars from Africa and Europe, along with travel writers from Nigeria, Zambia and Sweden, to discuss the past, present and futures of African-authored travel writing.

My other research interests include print culture, Yoruba language, the anthropology of texts, cosmopolitanism, and the relationship between texts and knowledge. My publications explore the ways Nigerians have represented the heterogeneity of Nigeria to themselves and to the world, and particularly discuss the relationship between travel and local cosmopolitanisms, narrative, knowledge, texts, genre, translation, migration and the growth of a local Yoruba-English print culture across the twentieth century.

Other activities

I am currently the Managing Editor of Africa in Words, a blog that focuses on cultural production and Africa. The blog covers books, art, film, history, music, theatre, ideas and people and the ways they interact, through their publication and circulation, with societies, economies and space.

Some of the pieces I’ve published on Africa in Words include interviews with Nigeria’s most well-known travel writer Pẹlu Awofẹsọ, Caine Prize shortlisted author Pede Hollist, and emerging novelist Fred Soneka. I’ve also published pieces on new fields of research: African-authored travel writing, writing about Nigeria’s National Youth Service, the future of Yoruba oral performance, and Yoruba-language resources online.

I particularly enjoy sharing my research beyond academia; in 2016, I’ve chairing events at the LSE Literary Festival and Africa Writes festival in London. I’ve also enjoyed presenting my research in Nigeria.

I tweet @rebeccasenoj and also for the Knowing Each Other project: @keonigeria


Edited volumes

  • Forthcoming: Beyond Religious Tolerance: Muslim, Christian and Traditionalist Encounters in an African Town, ed. by Insa Nolte, Olukoya Ogen and Rebecca Jones. James Currey.

Articles and chapters

  • Forthcoming: Rebecca Jones and Insa Nolte, ‘Everyday religious difference: Inter-religious encounters and attitudes’ in Beyond Religious Tolerance, ed. by Insa Nolte, Olukoya Ogen and Rebecca Jones. James Currey.
  • Forthcoming: ‘The Sociability of Print: 1920s and 30s Lagos Newspaper Travel Writing’, African Print Cultures, ed. by Derek Peterson, Stephanie Newell and Emma Hunter, University of Michigan Press.
  • ‘Nigeria is my Playground: Pẹlu Awofẹsọ’s Nigerian Travel Writing’, African Research and Documentation, 125, 2015.
  • ‘Translation and transformation: travel and intra-national encounter in the Yoruba novel.’ Journal of African Cultural Studies, 27 (3), 2015: 98-113.
  • ‘Journeys to the Hinterland: Twentieth-Century Nigerian Travel Writing and Local Heterogeneity in Lagos and Beyond.’ Postcolonial Text, 9 (4), 2014.
  • 'The Benefits of Travel: Travel Writing in the Lagos Newspapers, 1912-1931', Journal of History and Cultures 2, 2013
  • ‘Lineages and Locations: Nigerian Third Generation Writers and the Idea of Home in Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl and Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come’ African Renaissance, 8 (2), 2011.


  • Stephanie Newell, The Power to Name. Africa, 85 (3), August 2015, 549-551. 
  • Akinwumi Iṣola, Efunsetan Aniwura, Iyalode Ibadan and Tinuubu, Iyalode Egba: Two Yoruba Historical Dramas translated by Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith’ African Theatre, June 2011.
  • Brenda Cooper, A New Generation of African WritersBulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, March 2010.