What: Department of History and Sociology Speakers’ Series—West African Women Merchants and the Economics of Decolonization
Who: Dr. Marius Kothor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
When: Thursday, January 11, 2024, 6-7:30 pm
Where: Okanagan Regional Library, Downtown Kelowna branch, 1380 Ellis St.
Women in Togo became such influential and successful textile traders that locals called them “Nana Benz” for the luxury cars they drove, and you can learn more about their story at the Okanagan Regional Library on Thursday.
UBC Okanagan’s Department of History and Sociology presents Dr. Marius Kothor in the second installment of its ongoing speakers’ series. Dr. Kothor is an emerging scholar of West African history who offers a distinctive interpretation of the role of women in business and politics in independent Togo in the 20th century.
She received her PhD from Yale University in May 2023 and is an incoming Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Kothor will share the story of how a group of Togolese women textile traders built an empire making and selling wax print fabrics, establishing a monopoly over pattern and distribution rights.
The women used the wealth and influence they gained to shape the political landscape of 20th-century West Africa. By leveraging their social networks and deep knowledge of regional markets, they were able to expand consumer economies during colonialism, finance the decolonization movement in Togo, and smooth the turbulent transition from independence to the military dictatorship of former president Gnassingbé Eyadéma.
The Department of History and Sociology speakers’ series at UBC Okanagan began in 2017 in collaboration with the Okanagan Regional Library, with the goal of inviting scholars and members of the public to engage with each other.
This community event is free and open to the public.