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The History of Romantic Love in Sub-Saharan Africa: Between Interest and Emotion

Raleigh Lecture on History, delivered by Professor Megan Vaughan FBA, on 26 February 2009 (venue: The British Academy).

The societies of sub-Saharan Africa do not feature prominently in the growing literature on the comparative history of the emotions, and when they do it is often to confirm the fundamental difference between African emotional regimes and those of the 'West'. Though many pre-colonial African societies recognised the existence of powerful feelings of passionate love, most of them did not idealise this emotion. Romantic love was not simply a colonial import, however: love, money and intimacy combined in complex ways in the changing economic and political conditions of twentieth-century Africa. This exploration of the history of romantic love in Africa is also a critical exercise in the history of the emotions.

About the speaker
Megan Vaughan is Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King’s College. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2002. Her research covers the social, economic and cultural history of Africa, including the history of medicine and psychiatry, slavery in the periphery of the Indian Ocean, history and anthropology. One of her latest publications is: Creating the Creole Island: Slavery in Eighteenth Century Mauritius (2004).

More about the Raleigh Lectures on History