Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture 2023: The Place of Archives in Modern African Studies: A Searchlight on the Patronage of National Archives of Nigeria, Ibadan


Video duration: 
1h 07 min

The 2023 Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture will be given by Mercy Ariomerebi Iroaganachi, University Librarian of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Stephen Ellis, a prominent historian of Africa, made extensive use of the National Archives of Nigeria at Ibadan. Notable are the materials used for his last book (published posthumously in 2016): This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organised Crime. Archives constitute a significant aspect of academia and an important source for researchers. Thus the focus of the 2023 Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture will be on the user side, with the central question: how to do critical, reliable research on Africa, making use of African archival collections?

Using archival collections for critical and reliable research on Africa is largely determined by the state of, access to, and representation of the archives, as well as by the researcher’s disposition. Notable researchers across Africa, and particularly Nigeria, have decried the limitations of not just having access to records held in the archives, but their extant deteriorating state in this age of technological advancement when informative documents are digitised for seamless access.

In view of the foregoing, this lecture will address the state of the National Archives of Nigeria at Ibadan and the imperatives of archival records to modern African studies. What is the representation policy of the Ibadan Archives? What are the dangers of producing uncritical history from archival records? According to Stephen Ellis, archives are sources of power and contestation and must be subjected to objectivity test. At the same time, the lecture will highlight the fascinating force that sustains usage of archives for modern African studies by scholars like Stephen Ellis.

Check out the web dossier on African archives, compiled by the ASCL Library.

Preliminary programme:

18:00 Opening by Prof. Marleen Dekker, Director of the ASCL.

18:05 Introduction by Dr Akinyinka Akinyoade, Chair of the ASCL Researcher's Assembly.

18:10 Lecture by Dr Mercy Iroaganachi: 'A Searchlight on the Patronage of National Archives of Nigeria, Ibadan’.

18:35 Presentation by Prof. Chibuike Uche, chairholder of the Stephen Ellis Chair: 'Thirty Years of Archival Research: some personal reflections'.

18:50 Presentation of the Stephen Ellis archives by Jos Damen.

19:00 Q&A.

19:45 Closing.

About Stephen Ellis

Stephen Ellis (1953-2015) was a renowned senior researcher at the African Studies Centre Leiden. He was a courageous, deeply inquisitive researcher, going further than most researchers of his generation to uncover hidden truths about Africa. He combined a great interest in how ‘real politics’ work and have an impact on people’s lives, with a fascination for the role of religion and morality. He did so as a historian, with particular attention for the way history influences the present. With the Stephen Ellis Annual Research Lecture, the African Studies Centre Leiden wants to honour Stephen Ellis as the great scholar he was and encourages others to work in his spirit.
Every year, a committee consisting of the director of the African Studies Centre Leiden, the Chair of the ASCL Researchers’ Assembly and Prof. Gerrie ter Haar (Stephen Ellis’ widow) invites a scholar to give the Annual Lecture.
This event will be held physically in Leiden. For registrees who cannot travel to Leiden a link to an online platform will be sent one day before the start of the event.

Mercy Ariomerebi Iroaganachi has been the University Librarian of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, since 2022. Before that, she was University Librarian of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, in acting capacity from 2020 to 2022. She holds a BA (Hons.) in Communication and Language Arts and a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Ibadan, as well as a PhD in Information Resources Management (with specialisation in Library and Information Science) from Babcock University Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria. Dr Iroaganachi has over 37 scientific and scholarly publications in international and local journal outlets and conference proceedings. Her research areas of interests are gender studies, community development information provision, Library administration, the deployment of ICT in Library operations, and STEM education. She was the keynote speaker at the 2022 edition of the Conference of the National Librarian in Enugu, May 2022. Before venturing into librarianship, Dr Iroaganachi worked in several establishments, such as the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, The Daily Sketch, the Institute for French Research in Africa (IFRA), and Rocy Ventures, all in Ibadan. 

Date, time and location

07 December 2023
18.00 - 20.00
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden