The Family in African History

The Inaugural Lecture of Shane Doyle, Professor of African History (School of History)


In recent years politicians across Africa have increasingly focused on family values and familial breakdown. Yet many researchers have questioned the validity or unity of the family as an analytical concept within African Societies.

This lecture will tell the long history of the family, in order to explain both its growing political relevance and the enduring questions it raises for scholars. From the era of slavery, through the colonial crises around marriage and childhood, to the postcolonial challenges brought by HIV and rapid population growth, the family has been shaped by political and social conflict, even as its precision definition has been repeatedly challenged.


Professor Shane Doyle did his undergraduate degree in history at Cambridge, then took a masters in African Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies before returning to Cambridge to work for a PhD on the environmental and demographic history of Bunyoro, a kingdom in western Uganda. While writing up his dissertation he became the assistant director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, where he worked from 1997 to 2000.

He then held a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure until he came to Leeds in 2003.

Shane is Editor of the Journal of African History, and a member of the Leeds University Centre for African Studies and the Yorkshire African Studies Network

To register your intention to attend this event please email 

The reception for this event will be held in the Hamilton Thompson Foyer (School of History).