Amputated Men, Colonial Bureaucracy, and Masculinity in Post-World War I Colonial Nigeria


Njung, George N. 2020. “Amputated Men, Colonial Bureaucracy, and Masculinity in Post-World War I Colonial Nigeria.” Journal of Social History 53 (3): 620-43.

Author: George N, Njung


Since the 1980s, several aspects of masculinity in relation to the First World War, including the image of the citizen-soldier, have been well studied. Other aspects, however, such as the experience of combat and its impact on peacetime masculinities lag well behind. Though wartime and postwar experiences in Africa provide a repertoire for gender and masculinity research, the continent has been neglected in this realm of studies. British colonial Nigeria contributed tens of thousands of combat men to the war with thousands becoming disabled and facing challenges to their masculine identities, yet there is no serious research on this topic for Nigeria. This paper contributes to this long-neglected aspect of African history. Known in colonial archival documents only as “amputated men,” war- disabled Nigerian men struggled to navigate colonial bureaucracy in order to ob- tain artificial limbs and redeem what they considered their lost manhood. Employing data collected from the Nigerian and British archives, the article’s objectives are twofold: it analyzes the diminishment of the masculine identities of war-disabled men in Nigeria following the First World War, and it explains how such diminishment was accentuated by an inefficiently structured British colonial bureaucracy, paired with British colonial racism. The article contributes to schol- arship on WWI, disability studies, gender studies, and colonial studies, through examination of the protracted legacies of the global conflict on the African continent.



Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Peacekeeping, Post-Conflict, Race Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Nigeria

Year: 2020

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