African Print Cultures

Newspapers and Their Publics in the Twentieth Century
Edited by Derek R. Peterson, Emma Hunter, and Stephanie Newell


The essays collected in African Print Cultures claim African newspapers as subjects of historical and literary study. Newspapers were not only vehicles for anticolonial nationalism. They were also incubators of literary experimentation and networks by which new solidarities came into being. By focusing on the creative work that African editors and contributors did, this volume brings an infrastructure of African public culture into view.

The first of four thematic sections, “African Newspaper Networks,” considers the work that newspaper editors did to relate events within their locality to happenings in far-off places. This work of correlation and juxtaposition made it possible for distant people to see themselves as fellow travellers. “Experiments with Genre” explores how newspapers nurtured the development of new literary genres, such as poetry, realist fiction, photoplays, and travel writing in African languages and in English. “Newspapers and Their Publics” looks at the ways in which African newspapers fostered the creation of new kinds of communities and served as networks for public interaction, political and otherwise. The final section, “Afterlives, ” is about the longue durée of history that newspapers helped to structure, and how, throughout the twentieth century, print allowed contributors to view their writing as material meant for posterity.

Derek R. Peterson is Professor of History and African Studies at the University of Michigan.
Emma Hunter is Lecturer in African History at the University of Edinburgh.
Stephanie Newell is Professor of English and Senior Research Fellow in International and Area Studies at Yale University.

Praise / Awards

  • "While it is not possible here to highlight the specific merits of each individual chapter, all are based on intensive engagement with, and sophisticated interpretations of, African newspapers. The volume as a whole will be generative of new empirical and theoretical research, adding an important historical dimension to the explosion of scholarship on contemporary African media."
  • "African Print Cultures reinvigorates the field of African media studies and points to new directions for understanding African social, intellectual, and political history."
    --Journal of Social History
  • "The collection thus makes clear that new media do not necessarily supersede older ways of communicating. This volume further demonstrates that the interactions of Africans with print are longstanding and sophisticated, and that this topic deserves further historical attention."
    --Journal of African History
  • "This beautiful collective book, beyond the pleasure it provides via the discovery of fifteen meticulously documented case studies and covering a very wide period (from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century), represents a welcome epistemological and methodological advance in view of the existing work on the media in Africa.
    -Cahiers d'Études africaines

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Product Details

  • 460 pages.
  • 39 halftones, 1 table.
Available for sale worldwide

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  • 2016
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  • 978-0-472-12213-4

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  • Africa, Newspapers, Colonialism, Anticolonial, Postcolonial, Public Sphere, African Languages, Censorship, Printing Press, Nationalism, History of Reading