SOAS University of London

African Languages, Cultures and Literatures Section

Jade Lee

BA (Hons) English and Comparative Literature (Goldsmiths College, University of London), MA African Studies (SOAS, University of London)


Jade Lee
Jade Lee
Email address:
Thesis title:
Women of the British Colonial Service: Contested Identities and Liminal Lives, 1936 – 1961
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My research is focused on the ways in which the women of the Colonial Service negotiated, affirmed and contested their complex position in the final decades of the British Empire.

The personal archives that form the case studies for my thesis centre on a group of women working with or affiliated to the Colonial Service in what was then the British Cameroons. These archives span 1945 to the colony’s integration with the French Cameroons to form the Republic of Cameroon in 1961. The material available ranges from official publications produced by these women to the more private realm of personal correspondence and, in one case, an unpublished book.

My aim is problematize the traditional narrative which sees the colonial project as solely male in both aim and practice. I do not see the official archive as the record and product of empire; rather I aim to read ‘along the grain’ (Mary Ann Stoler) to understand the ways in which these reams and reams of paper that categorized, codified and enclosed people and spaces were the very nuts and bolts of the system itself. By using a methodological approach which draws on anthropological conceptions of liminality and the literary tool of intertextuality I hope to open up the script to other voices, both the women of the Colonial Service themselves and the local women with whom they worked so closely.

As well as using archives in London and Cambridge, I plan to access the archives in Cameroon during the second year of my PhD.


‘A Review of ‘’The Shouting in the Dark’’ – Elleke Boehmer’

‘Elizabeth O’Kelly’s Unpublished Book: Eleven Exciting Years as a Colonial Officer in Pre-Independence Cameroon.’ Journal of History and Cultures. Issue 5, January 2015.


Jade Lee: ‘From the Inside Out: Elizabeth O’Kelly and Colonial Women in the Archives.’ Travelling Africa and the Archives. A Postgraduate Conference. June 2013.

Jade Lee: ‘Women of the Colonial Service: Patriarchy, Imperialism and Resistance. A View from the Archives.’ Challenging Gender: Embracing Intersectionality?: A One Day CHASE Symposium. November 2015.




SOAS research scholarship student

CHASE associate scholar

Joint Submissions Editor Brief Encounters. CHASE(Consortium of Humanities and Arts, South East) sponsored Postgraduate journal.