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    The private and the public selves in Atkinson Wokoma’s diaries: constructing self-identity in African colonial modernity

    Onyerionwu, Ezechi (2022) The private and the public selves in Atkinson Wokoma’s diaries: constructing self-identity in African colonial modernity. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    The main contention of this thesis is that Atkinson Wokoma (1894-1968)—a Church Missionary Society (CMS) priest and teacher who contributed immensely to the Protestant Christianizing project of Southern Nigeria in the first half of the 20th century—constructs an identity of African modernity in his diaries through the production of multiple selves of the private and public categories. It argues that Wokoma, an ardent diarist whose work spans the fifty years between 1915 and 1965, succeeds in foregrounding—within the context of 20th century colonial Africa—the diary’s acclaimed role in the articulation of the modern self. I restrict my reading of Wokoma diaries to three domains of modern life—Puritanism, history and the culture of taste—through which I investigate the significance of the public and the private spheres of existence to the construction of the modern African persona. Adopting a methodology that underscores the role of the autobiographic in the production of modern selves, I read Wokoma’s diaries as texts of self-representation and self-construction that document the emergence of 20th century African modernity. This posture finds expression in my interpretation of Wokoma’s engagement with the three stipulated domains of modernity. For instance, regarding Puritanism, I analyse how Wokoma’s diary-narrative represents a medium for the assessment of the Christian spiritual dimensions of the emergence of African modernity through a documentation of his private and public experiences as a priest and missionary. About the modern site of history, I examine how his presentation of private history and public history articulates an identity of African modernity. And concerning the domain of the culture of taste, I locate Wokoma’s construction of modern African selfhood in the private and public aspects of refinement, consumption and performance of high culture.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 09 May 2022 09:35
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:31


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