Dr Rebecca Jones

Dr Rebecca Jones

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

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. My research sits at the intersection between literary studies and cultural 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.

My research to date has centred on the history of Nigerian-authored travel writing in both Yoruba and English; my monograph, At the Crossroads: Nigerian Travel Writing in Yoruba and English was published by James Currey in 2019.


  • BA (Hons), English (Cambridge)
  • MA, African Studies (SOAS)
  • PhD, African Studies (Birmingham)
  • PGCHE, Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (Birmingham)


After a BA in English from the University of Cambridge, I studied for an MA in African Studies at SOAS, University of London, and a PhD in African Studies at the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham. In 2019 I was awarded a PGCHE from the University of Birmingham.

From 2012-16 I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow 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’. 

From 2016-2019 I was a Lecturer in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, where I taught undergraduate and postgraduate modules relating to African literature, culture and anthropology, and supervised undergraduate and postgraduate students.

I now work as Research and Policy Manager at the charity Working Families.


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. My book, At the Crossroads: Nigerian Travel Writing in Yoruba and English (James Currey, 2019) is the first book-length study of the history of Nigerian travel writing, and it was awarded an Honourable Mention in the African Literature Association First Book Award 2021.  

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

My broader research interests include the Yoruba language and its print and literary culture, and African-authored travel writing. I am an Editor of the travel writing journal Fortunate Traveller, and an editorial board member of the blog AfricainWords.com and the Journal of African Cultural Studies.

Beyond literary culture, as a postdoctoral fellow on the ‘Knowing Each Other’ project, I researched the everyday lives of Yoruba Muslims, Christians and traditionalists. The project explored the way in which religious differences and encounters structure the experiences, perceptions and behaviours of Yoruba individuals in their everyday social identities.

As well as managing the data from the project’s large ethnographic survey and contributing to articles exploring the results of the survey in detail, I collaborated with Dr Clyde Ancarno to develop corpus-assisted analyses of both Yoruba- and English-language responses to the survey. I was also a co-editor, with Dr Insa Nolte and Prof Olukoya Ogen, of the edited volume Beyond Religious Tolerance: Muslim, Christian & Traditionalist Encounters in an African Town (James Currey, 2017) which explores inter-religious encounters in Ede, Nigeria.  


Recent publications


Jones, R 2019, At the Crossroads: Nigerian Travel Writing and Literary Culture in Yoruba and English. African Articulations, Boydell & Brewer. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787445918

Nolte, I (ed.), Ogen, O & Jones, R (ed.) 2017, Beyond Religious Tolerance: Muslim, Christian & Traditionalist Encounters in an African Town. Religion in Transforming Africa, James Currey.


Nolte, I, Ancarno, C & Jones, R 2018, 'Inter-religious relations in Yorubaland, Nigeria: corpus methods and anthropological survey data', Corpora, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 27-64. https://doi.org/10.3366/cor.2018.0135

Nolte, I, Jones, R, Taiyari, K & Occhiali, G 2016, 'Exploring Survey Data for Historical and Anthropological Research: Muslim-Christian relations in south-west Nigeria', African Affairs, vol. 115, no. 460, pp. 541-561. https://doi.org/10.1093/afraf/adw035

Jones, R 2015, 'Nigeria is my Playground: Pelu Awofeso's Nigerian Travel Writing', African Research and Documentation, vol. 125. <http://scolma.org/category/ard/>

Jones, R 2015, 'Translation and transformation: travel and intra-national encounter in the Yoruba novel', Journal of African Cultural Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 98-113. https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2014.978268

Jones, R 2014, 'Journeys to the Hinterland: early twentieth-century Nigerian domestic travel writing and local heterogeneity', Postcolonial Text, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 1-19. <http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/article/view/1754>

Jones, R 2013, 'The Benefits of Travel: Travel writing in the Lagos newspapers 1912-1931', The Journal of History and Cultures, no. 2, 3, pp. 39. <https://historyandcultures.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/jhac-2-rebecca-jones-the-benefits-of-travel-writing1.pdf>

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Jones, R & Nolte, I 2017, Everyday Inter-religious Encounters and Attitudes. in I Nolte, O Ogen & R Jones (eds), Beyond Religious Tolerance: Muslim, Christian & Traditionalist Encounters in an African Town. Religion in Transforming Africa, African Studies, History of Religion, Politics & Economics, James Currey, pp. 227-256.


Jones, R 2019, African Travel Writing. in The Cambridge History of Travel Writing. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 283-298. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316556740.019

Jones, R 2019, How to be a Writer in your 30s in Lagos: Self-help literature and the creation of authority in Africa. in Routledge Handbook of African Literature . Routledge, pp. 139-153.

Jones, R 2016, The Sociability of Print: 1920s and 1930s Lagos Newspaper Travel Writing. in DR Peterson, E Hunter & S Newell (eds), African Print Cultures: Newspapers and their Publics in the Twentieth Century. University of Michigan Press, pp. 102-124. https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.8833121

Jones, R 2011, Akinwumi Isola. Efunsetan Aniwura, Iyalode Ibadan and Tinuubu, Iyalode Egba: Two Yoruba Historical Dramas. Translated from Yoruba by Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith. in D Kerr & J Plastow (eds), African Theatre: Media & performance. vol. 10, James Currey.

Book/Film/Article review

Jones, R 2015, 'The Power to Name: a history of anonymity in colonial West Africa by Stephanie Newell', Africa, vol. 85, no. 3, pp. 549-551. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972015000388

Doctoral Thesis

Jones, R 2014, 'Writing domestic travel in Yoruba and English print culture, southwestern Nigeria, 1914-2014', ???thesis.qualification.phd???, The University of Birmingham. <http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5249/>

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