restricted access Colonial Politics and Precolonial History: Everyday Knowledge, Genre, and Truth in a Yoruba Town

This article suggests that colonial African historiography was shaped both by the textual forms and conventions associated with local historical knowledge and by the complex political interests which emerged under colonial rule. Based on a case study of two linked debates in the small Yoruba town of Ode Remo, the article argues that beyond narratives, local historical knowledge was also contained, sometimes opaquely, in a variety of other genres and practices. During the colonial period, traditionally segmented and distributed forms of knowledge were brought together in civic debates to constitute a more general history. But while historical accounts could be inflected under political pressure or even to reflect widespread local ambitions, the enduring presence of historical knowledge in textual forms used in everyday life meant that there nonetheless remained an overall sense of what was true within the community.