Everyday Life under Colonial Rule (HISM028)

StaffDr Gareth Curless - Convenor
Dr Silvia Espelt-Bombin - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of the module is to introduce you to the key ideas and debates regarding the history of everyday life under colonial rule. The module will focus on the social changes that were brought about as result of European colonialism. Rather than focus on high politics or dramatic episodes of protest and rebellion, the module will focus on the ‘everyday’ aspects of colonialism and its impact on gender relations, domestic life, and popular culture. Critically, you will be encouraged to focus on the agency of African and Asian peoples and their role in shaping the social relations and forms of popular culture that emerged under colonial rule.

The module will familiarise you with key historiographical debates and will allow you to engage with a range of primary sources relating to everyday life.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Locate and evaluate critically the relevant primary and secondary source materials required to investigate a specific historical or methodological question.
  • 2. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of key themes and approaches in the study of everyday life under colonial rule.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate the ability to analyse and synthesise widely different types of historical material and evidence.
  • 4. Identify and understand the nature of original sources.
  • 5. Demonstrate a critical understanding of key historical concepts and debates.
  • 6. Research for themselves and present independent accounts and interpretations of different historical issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Develop the capacity for independent critical study and thought.
  • 8. Apply key bibliographical skills (including the use of on-line finding aids)
  • 9. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials.
  • 10. Work as an individual and with a tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task).

Syllabus plan

Exact syllabus may vary year to year but the module will examine topics such as:



Social Relations and Class

The Colonial State and Everyday Life


Urban Life

Religious Beliefs

Gender Relations

Political Protest

Civil Society


Everyday Violence


Youth Cultures

Health and Medicine

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2211 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided independent study278Preparation for seminars, essays and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing1-10Oral through discussion with peers and tutor

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 674000 words1-10Oral and written
Individual Presentation3320 minutes and 1,000 word reflective commentary1-10Oral and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-9Referral/deferral period
PresentationScript as for 20 minute presentation and 1,000 word reflective commentary1-10Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of one 4,000 word essay, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script and accompanying visual aids that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 20 minutes of speech. Instead of reflecting on the delivery of the presentation and its reception, as in the original assessment, the reflective commentary will explore the objectives and intended delivery methods of the presentation.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Jonathan Saha, Law, disorder and the colonial state; Corruption in Burma c.1900 (Basingstoke, 2013).


Emmanuel Kwaku Akyeampong, Drink, power, and cultural change : a social history of alcohol in Ghana, c. 1800 to recent times (Portsmouth, 1996).

Jeanne Marie Penvenne, African workers and colonial racism : Mozambican strategies and struggles in Lourenço Marques, 1877-1962 (London, 1995).


Lisa A. Lindsay and Stephan F. Miescher (eds) Men and masculinities in modern Africa (Portsmouth, NH, 2003).


Luise White, The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi (Chicago, 1990).


Toyin Falola, The Power of African Cultures (Rochester, 2003)


Achille Mbembe, ‘Provisional Notes on the Postcolony’, Africa, (1996),62, 3-37.

J.G. Deutsch, P Probst, P & H Schmidt, African Modernities (Oxford, 1999).

P. Martin, Leisure and Society in Colonial Brazzaville (Cambridge, 1995).

Su Lin Lewis, Cities in motion : urban life and cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia, 1920-1940 (Cambridge, 2016).

Jean Allman, Fashioning Africa : power and the politics of Dress (Bloomington, 2004).

J. Allman (ed.) African Women in Colonial Histories(Bloomington, 2002),

Susan Campbell, ‘Carnival, Calypso, and Class Struggle in Nineteenth Century Trinidad’, History Workshop Journal, 26, 1 (1988), pp. 1-27


Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton (eds) Moving subjects : gender, mobility, and intimacy in an age of global empire (Urbana, 2009).

Juanita de Barros, Order and Place in a Colonial City: Patterns of Struggle and Resistance in Georgetown, British Guiana (2004).

Juanita de Barros, Reproducing the British Caribbean: Sex, Gender, and Population Politics (Chapel Hill, NC, 2014).

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Key words search

Global History, Imperial History, Cultural History, Social History, Popular Culture, Everyday Life, Gender, Class