"Stephanie Newell's Histories of Dirt does for this generation what Mary Douglas did with Purity and Danger several decades ago. Focusing on what seems ubiquitous and thus utterly banal—dirt—Newell shows how the phenomenon of dirt is interpretable from a variety of sometimes contradictory perspectives both by local Africans and by the team of researchers that set about investigating the phenomenon. This is a high-order interdisciplinary work, full of fresh insights and with a turn toward what Africans think about themselves that will provide salutary methodological and conceptual lessons for scholars in African Studies and well beyond." — Ato Quayson, Stanford University
“Brilliantly reading imperial discourse against the grain, Stephanie Newell offers compelling dissections of the perspectives, assumptions, privileged subject positions, and framings that characterize imperial thought. At the same time, she gives close attention and consideration to the range of voices of the people of Lagos, producing powerful arguments about the popular, cultural, and social structures that express urban values. With great ingenuity, Newell has constituted an archive of the present that provides local voices and views on subjects initially warped by colonial discourse. Histories of Dirt is an important and major contribution.” — Kenneth W. Harrow, author of Trash: African Cinema from Below
"In rethinking the nature of history, the novelty of Histories of Dirt lies in its proposal for an expansion of historical methodology to accommodate public opinion as a valid source of contemporary history based on the aggregation of individual's conception of social experience." — Olukayode A. Faleye, Canadian Journal of African Studies
"Histories of Dirt is a work of great creativity and nuance, and its message is especially urgent today. 'Èkó ò ní bàjé,' goes a political slogan turned popular now—Lagos will not spoil."
— Samuel Fury Childs Daly, International Journal of African Historical Studies
"At the core of the analysis is Newell's effort to uncover non-elite perspectives, generally marginalized or ignored in the remonstrations on public health and moral hygiene put forward by policy makers, authority figures, and power brokers." — M. M. Heaton, Choice