Following Fires: Mapping 19th Century Lagos

Authors: Ademide Adelusi-Adeluyi*, University of California - Riverside
Topics: Africa, Cartography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Lagos, Social Geography, Historical GIS, West Africa, Cities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Maryland A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This presentation examines how non-traditional sources — in this case, large fires — can be used to map absences in the nineteenth-century history of Lagos. Until 1891, the social geography of Lagos mapped mostly the handful of Europeans and wealthy merchants in the city, leaving thousands of indigenous people absent from the visual archives of the city. So few historical sources document these peoples, but following the itineraries of fires in the city offer opportunities to access intimate domestic, religious and other scenes that are usually shielded from the colonial gaze. Fires were frequent, expected, and spread quickly in Lagos. “Following Fires” demonstrates how a spatial analysis of these fires, offers a new for reconstructing historical narratives of both the built and natural environment around Lagos. It uses documented, large fire outbreaks to create a new social map of Lagos, and Lagosians, between 1851 and 1894. In doing so, it creates a template for historical narratives of the people and places left out of colonial histories of the city.

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