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Assistant Professor of African Studies, Georgetown University

Dr Halimat Somotan is an assistant professor of African Studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is a historian of twentieth-century Africa with research interests in the history of decolonization, postcolonial rule, urban history, and women’s history. Her first book manuscript, The Decolonizing City: Popular Politics and the Making of Postcolonial Lagos, 1941-76, is a people-centered history of Lagos, one of the most populous cities in the world, during and after Nigeria’s transition from colonial rule to independence. It shows how diverse actors, from tenants, landlords, and female traders to traditional rulers, struggled to make the former capital of independent Nigeria more livable by demanding new policies like rent control and challenging colonial ones like slum clearance. The Decolonizing City draws from wide-ranging primary sources and oral interviews to unearth urban residents’ unrealized visions and protests that informed Lagos’ postcolonial governing structure and laws. Her research has been published in the Journal of Urban History.

Somotan’s research has been supported by fellowships from Carnegie Mellon University; the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities; Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)-Mellon Fellowships for Dissertation Research in Original Sources; and the University of Virginia’s Carter G. Woodson Institute’s Predoctoral Fellowship, among others. She received her MA, MPhil and PhD in history from Columbia University and her BA in history and theater arts from Fairfield University.


  • –present
    Assistant Professor of African Studies , Georgetown University