New Books Network

Cars promise freedom, autonomy, and above all, movement but leave whole cities stuck in traffic, breathing polluted air, exposed of deadly crashes, and dependent...

Cars promise freedom, autonomy, and above all, movement but leave whole cities stuck in traffic, breathing polluted air, exposed of deadly crashes, and dependent on vast the vast infrastructures of road networks, and oil production. Postcolonial Automobility: Car Culture in West Africa (University of Minnesota Press, 2019) examines the paradoxes and ambivalences of automobility through the lens of West African films, novels, plays, and poems. From the melodramas of Nollywood to the socialist realism of Ousmane Semebene, African artists have delved into the pleasures and anxieties of the road to theorize capitalist development, globalization, patriarchy, and the ethics of accumulation. In this episode of New Books in Anthropology, Lindsey Green-Simms joins host Jacob Doherty to discuss how West African entrepreneurs appropriated colonial technologies, how stalled cars embodied the crises of structural adjustment, and what new, feminist, mobilities and imaginaries emerge from the pages, screens, and stages of West African popular and literary culture.

Lindsey Green-Simms is an associate professor of Literature at American University with a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Minnesota. She specializes in post-colonial film and literature with particular emphasis on issues of gender, sexuality, globalization, and mobility. Her work has appeared in Transition, Journal of African Cinemas, Camera Obscura, and the Journal of Postcolonial Writing. She is currently working on a project on African queer cinema.


Jacob Doherty is a research associate in urban mobility at the Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford, and, most recently, the co-editor Labor Laid Waste, a special issue of International Labor and Working Class History.