Professor Insa Nolte

Professor Insa Nolte

Department of African Studies and Anthropology
Professor of African Studies

Contact details

Address
Arts Building
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Feedback and office hours


For details please contact me at m.i.nolte@bham.ac.uk

Qualifications

  • Diplomvolkswirtin FUBerlin
  • PhD Birmingham

Biography

After a first degree at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, I joined the Centre of West African Studies at the University of Birmingham as a PhD student under the supervision of Paulo de Moraes Farias and Karin Barber. After my graduation, I held the Kirk-Greene Junior Research Fellowship at St Antony’s College, Oxford. I returned to Birmingham to take up a lectureship in the Department for African Studies and Anthropology in 2001, where I am now a Professor.

I work closely with African colleagues and institutions and am a Research Professor at Osun State University, Nigeria, since 2013. In 2016-18 I served as President of the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK) before taking on the role of Head of Department in 2018-21. I am currently the recipient of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship and, during the 2022-23 academic year, a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

Teaching

In the past I have taught on the following undergraduate and graduate modules:

  • Thinking Anthropologically
  • Anthropology of Africa
  • Introduction to African Culture
  • Theory, Ethnography, and Research
  • Anthropology of Islam
  • Religion and Ritual
  • Research Methods and Skills in African Studies

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise doctoral research students working on African and Nigerian history, politics, gender and religion. Recent and current supervision topics include ethno-religious conflict and women’s lives in the Nigerian Middle Belt, The portrayal of Pentecostalism and traditional religion in Edo language popular video films, Local Debates and Struggles over 'Prostitution' in Southern Nigeria, 1890-1960, and Modernisation, Bureaucracy and Traditional rule in Ghana: The case of the Otumfuo Education Fund.


Find out more - our PhD African Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.

Research

My research focuses on the role of everyday life for the political and religious history of the Yoruba-speaking Southwest of Nigeria. My early research interest focused on the history and politics of Ijebu-Remo, the home area of the Nigerian nationalist and Yoruba leader Obafemi Awolowo. I have also published more generally on local-level mobilisation and resistance in Nigerian political history.

My current work focuses on the social and political relationships between members of different religions in southwest Nigeria, where Traditionalists, Muslims and Christians have lived together for several generations. Moreover, many families include Muslims and Christians, and there are many Muslim-Christian marriages, most of which are between Muslim men and Christian women. I am interested in the historical patterns of gendered and religious preference and the accommodation of religious difference in marriage and extended family life.

You can see a short recording of me speaking about my research here at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin website.

The disciplinary divisions in modern academia do not always reflect the conceptual histories of African societies, and most of my own research straddles history and anthropology. But I believe strongly in the importance of contextual data which is often taken for granted in wealthy countries, and I have also carried out inter- and multidisciplinary research beyond these disciplines. In the context of an ERC grant, my colleague Olukoya Ogen and I organised the first large-n survey on religious identification and attitudes in southwest Nigeria since 1963 in 2012-14, and I have worked with fellow anthropologists, statisticians, and linguists to publish data produced by the survey.

Other activities

  • Since 2017: Member of editorial advisory board, African Affairs
  • 2017-19: Council member, Royal African Society
  • 2016-18: President, African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK)
  • 2012-17: Reviews editor, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
  • 2014-16: Vice President, African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK)
  • 2013-18: Vice Chair, UK Council for Area Studies
  • Since 2000: Member of editorial advisory board, Africa: Journal of the International African Institute

Publications

Recent publications

Book

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.

Article

Nolte, I 2020, '‘At least I am married’: Muslim-Christian marriage and gender in southwest Nigeria', Social Anthropology / Anthropologie Sociale, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 434-450. https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-8676.12765

Nolte, I 2019, 'Introduction: learning to be Muslim in West Africa. Islamic engagements with diversity and difference', Islamic Africa, vol. 10, no. 1-2, pp. 11-25. https://doi.org/10.1163/21540993-01001001

Nolte, I 2019, 'The future of African Studies: What we can do to keep Africa at the heart of our research', Journal of African Cultural Studies, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 296-313. https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2019.1584552

Nolte, I, Shear, K & Yelvington, KA 2018, 'From ethnographic knowledge to anthropological intelligence: an anthropologist in the Office of Strategic Services in Second World War Africa', History and Anthropology, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 52-82. https://doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2017.1322587

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

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Nolte, I 2018, Imitation and creativity in the establishment of Islam in Oyo. in T Green & B Rossi (eds), Landscapes, Sources, and Intellectual Projects in African History. African History, vol. 6, Brill, pp. 91-115.

Nolte, I & Ajala, A 2017, Ambivalence and Transgression in the Practice of Ṣàngó. 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, Boydell and Brewer, pp. 75-93.

Nolte, I & Ogen, O 2017, Beyond Religious Tolerance: Muslims, Christians and Traditionalists in a Yoruba Town. in Beyond Religious Tolerance: Muslim, Christian & Traditionalist Encounters in an African Town. Religion in Transforming Africa, African Studies, History of Religion, Politics & Economics, Boydell and Brewer, pp. 1-30.

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.

Nolte, I & Akinjobi, T 2017, Marrying Out: Gender and Religious Mediation in Interfaith Marriages. 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, Boydell and Brewer, pp. 207-226.

Book/Film/Article review

Nolte, I 2020, 'Mustapha, Abdul Raufu & David Ehrhardt (eds). Creed & grievance: Muslim‐Christian relations & conflict resolution in northern Nigeria. xx, 364 pp., maps, tables, bibliogrs. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2018. £60.00 (cloth)', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 193-194. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.13191

Nolte, I 2019, 'Boko Haram explained', The Political Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-923X.12673

Nolte, I 2019, 'The contingencies of Yoruba masquerading', Journal of African History.

Review article

Nolte, I 2022, 'Beyond Christian perspectives: New studies of Yoruba Islam and religious coexistence', Africa, vol. 92, no. 3, pp. 373-383.

View all publications in research portal

Expertise

Nigerian history and politics, religion and corruption; Muslim-Christian relations; Yoruba history, historiography and ethno-national politics; Obafemi Awolowo

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office

Expertise

 

  • Gender inequality
  • Religious coexistence
  • Development policy
  • Community relations

Other information