Breaking new ground in the understanding of sexuality's complex relationship to colonialism, When Sex Threatened the State illuminates the attempts at regulating prostitution in colonial Nigeria.
As Saheed Aderinto shows, British colonizers saw prostitution as an African form of sexual primitivity and a problem to be solved as part of imperialism's "civilizing mission". He details the Nigerian response to imported sexuality laws and the contradictory ways both African and British reformers advocated for prohibition or regulation of prostitution. Tracing the tensions within diverse groups of colonizers and the colonized, he reveals how wrangling over prostitution camouflaged the negotiating of separate issues that threatened the social, political, and sexual ideologies of Africans and Europeans alike.
The first book-length project on sexuality in early twentieth century Nigeria, WhenSex Threatened the State combines the study of a colonial demimonde with an urban history of Lagos and a look at government policy to reappraise the history of Nigerian public life.