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Dr Terri Ochiagha

Teaching Fellow in Modern African History

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Address Department of History
Chesham Building, Room 3.04
King's College London
London WC2R 2LS




Dr Terri Ochiagha received her PhD from Complutense University, Madrid. In 2014-2016, she was a Newton International Fellow at the School of English, University of Sussex. In 2017 she became a Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham, and tutored in Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford in Michaelmas Term, 2017.

Ochiagha was awarded the African Studies Association UK’S Fage and Oliver Prize for the most outstanding scholarly monograph published in 2014/2015 for her first book, Achebe and Friends at Umuahia: The Making of a Literary Elite (Oxford: James Currey,2015)

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • Life-Writing
  • Colonial Whiteness
  • Nigerian Print Cultures
  • British Colonial Education in Africa
  • First-Generation Nigerian Writing

Drawing on archival sources, interviews, and literary and biographical texts, Dr Ochiagha’s prize-winning  first book, Achebe and Friends at Umuahia: The Making of a Literary Elite (Oxford: James Currey 2015) argues that in the period 1944-52, Government College, Umuahia, an elite British colonial secondary school, and its humanistic ambience catalysed the literary aspirations of first-generation Nigerian writers Chinua Achebe—the acclaimed father of modern African literature—Elechi Amadi, Chukwuemeka Ike, Chike Momah, and Christopher Okigbo, nurtured their talent, and helped lay the foundations of their work.

Dr Ochiagha is currently working on her second monograph, E.H. Duckworth’s Experiments: A Study of Colonial Eccentricity in Nigeria. Drawing on an extensive range of archival sources—including diaries, personal and professional correspondence, photographs, magazines and newspapers—as well oral history interviews, the book examines the life of colonial educator E.H. Duckworth (1894-72), founding editor and principal photographer of the developmental and cultural magazine Nigeria. The biography zooms in on the impact of Duckworth’s changing personal, political, and ideological circumstances on his photographic representations of the country and its peoples and the dissemination of cultural and developmental knowledge in the magazine. The book also devotes considerable space to gender, sexuality, and domesticity in colonial contexts. She expects to finish the book in the first half of 2018. In the meanwhile, she is writing a short history of Chinua Achebe’s iconic novel Things Fall Apart, which is under contract with Ohio University Press, and is expected to be published in 2018. 

The obvious connection between the first two monographs is that they deal, to a large extent, with individuals navigating in and against colonial educational contexts. But ultimately the primary impetus behind Dr Ochiagha’s scholarly work has been her passion for the complex configuration of identities and self-fashioning in liminal spaces and the ambivalence and slippage inherent in the formation of cultural hybridity. She has learnt that the simultaneous pull of two cultural locations can be a complex matter to negotiate in the crucial time of identity development and is curious about the ways in which her subjects deal with this traction in their own particular historical, cultural and political contexts. Dr Ochiagha sees herself as weaving a particular type of cultural history around these figures, highlighting the occluded psychocultural tensions of their respective socio-political milieux.

Selected publications
  • Achebe and Friends at Umuahia: The Making of a Literary Elite (Oxford: James Currey, 2015)
  • ‘Neocoductive Rumiations’, Special Issue on ‘Literature in the World’ PMLA 130 (2016)
  • Introduction and Edition: ‘There was a College: Introducing The Umuahian: A Golden Jubilee Publication, edited by Chinua Achebe’ Africa: Journal of the International Africa Institute 85.2 (May 2015), 1-30.The full volume of The Umuahian, annotated by Terri Ochiagha, appears online at
  • ‘Decolonizing the Mind Onitsha-Style: Reconsidering Ogali A. Ogali’s The Juju Priest’, Research in African Literatures 46.1 (Spring 2015), 90-106.
  • ‘“A Little Book of Logic”: Reconstructing Colonial Arts of Suasion at Government College, Umuahia (1944-45)’ History in Africa: A Journal of Method 41 (June 2014), 63 – 82. 

I teach modules on the history of Africa since 1885, with a particular focus on colonialism, as well as on the history of the British Empire. My research at the intersection of disciplines – literature, history, and to a lesser degree, anthropology – informs my teaching.









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