US Mission Hails Nigerian Aderinto On $300,000 History Prize

The Prize recognises outstanding scholarship that illuminates the past and seeks to anchor public discourse in a deeper understanding of history.

File photo of Nigerian-American Professor Saheed Aderinto


The United States Mission has congratulated a professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies, Florida International University, Saheed Aderinto, on his emergence as one of nine winners of the Dan David Prize.

According to a synopsis on the website of the benefactors, the Prize recognises outstanding scholarship that illuminates the past and seeks to anchor public discourse in a deeper understanding of history.

The US Mission, in a Facebook post on Monday, celebrated Aderinto on becoming “the first Nigerian to receive the $300,000 Dan David Prize—the largest financial reward for excellence in the historical discipline in the world. Professor Aderinto is the Founding President of the Lagos Studies Association.”

In his biography, the Dan David Prize described Aderinto as a historian who uses unusual lenses such as sexuality, guns, animals and music to reexamine colonial identity and subjecthood in modern Africa, with a particular focus on Nigeria.

He is said to have received his BA in History from the University of Ibadan and his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Aderinto’s work challenges historians to think about what constitutes the past in completely new ways, to ask new questions about the makers of history and to question conventional assumptions about power, agency and authority,” the website reads.

“He aims to recalibrate conventional definitions of sources used to reconstruct African history.”

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His work is said to excavate previously unused sources and reexamine existing ones to mobilise innovative methodologies and vocabularies from multiple fields and render interpretations that take historical research in unexpected directions.

Aderinto reportedly describes himself as a serial methodologist and decompartmentalising historian who adopts multiple disciplinary tools in understanding the past, while blending different genres of history to reveal the complexities of people and events that came before us.

The Prize adds, “Aderinto has written a number of books, including When Sex Threatened the State: Illicit Sexuality, Nationalism, and Politics in Colonial Nigeria, 1900-1958 (University of Illinois Press, 2015), Guns and Society in Colonial Nigeria: Firearms, Culture, and Public Order (Indiana University Press, January 2018), and Animality and Colonial Subjecthood in Africa: The Human and Nonhuman Creatures of Nigeria (Ohio University Press, 2022).

“His first book, When Sex Threatened the State, was the winner of the 2016 Nigerian Studies Association Book Award for being the ‘most important scholarly book/work on Nigeria published in the English language.'”

The Prize said Aderinto is currently writing a book and making a documentary about the history of Fuji music in Nigeria.