The Faculty of Arts

Informalization and It's Discontents: Economic Exclusion and Islamic Radicalization in Northern Nigeria

Seminar with Kate Meagher, London School of Economics

In this seminar, I will examine how northern Nigeria’s large informal economy interacts with processes of Islamic radicalization, as an incubator of disaffection or a buffer against economic pressures.  Drawing on field research conducted in 2011 and 2014 in the northern Nigerian cities of Kano and Kaduna, I will consider how economic pressures and religious change are transforming the capacity of the informal economy for constructive labour absorption and social integration.

Decades of market reforms have reinforced long-standing patterns of regional inequality, resulting in extreme poverty and deprivation in the Muslim north despite Nigeria’s celebrated economic resurgence, in which the gains of growth have been concentrated in the Christian majority south.  In northern Nigeria’s burgeoning informal economy, poverty and the collapse of economic opportunity have reshaped informal economic relations, eroding existing systems of social integration and creating new flashpoints for radicalization. 

Based on interviews with operators and associational leaders in a selection of eight common informal production and service activities, I show how mounting economic pressures are restructuring patterns of ownership, political identity, educational attainment and religious affiliation within the informal economy.  Pre-existing relations of religious tolerance and economic interdependence are being eroded by new struggles over access to informal jobs and social support networks.  Popular disaffection is heightened by security failures and human rights abuses, which exacerbate local economic stresses and resentment against the state. 

I will conclude with an examination of the ways in which security and employment policies have exacerbated rather than resolved problems of poverty and disaffection owing to a failure to appreciate the realities of poverty, unemployment and informal economic systems in northern Nigeria.

  • Datum: Torsdag 1 December, 13-15
  • Plats:  ENG/6-0022
  • Föreläsare: Kate Meagher

September 13 - The Invention of Terrorism

Round table discussion and lecture with Lisa Stampnitzky

The lecture draws on Lisa Stampnitzky's book, Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented “Terrorism” (Cambridge University Press, 2013), which addresses the question of how the contemporary concept of "terrorism" took shape. 

Round table-discussion

  • Datum: 2016-09-13 kl 10:00 – 12:00
  • Plats: Engelska parken, Eng/4-2007 
  • Medverkande: Lisa Stampnitzky

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  • Datum: 2016-09-13 kl 13:00 – 16:00
  • Plats: Museum Gustavianum Sal Minus
  • Föreläsare: Lisa Stampnitzky

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Fifteen years after 9-11: What do we actually know about terrorism – and is that knowledge part of the problem?

The inescapably manifest dialectic between efforts to suppress terrorist networks and the effective reproduction of terrorist networks – visible not least through the emergence of new state formations like ISIL – renders policy a research objective as logical as terrorism itself when it comes to understanding the growth and spread of radical Islam.

This presents researchers with a challenge to scrutinize and come to terms with political as much as epistemological fundaments of current strategies to fight terrorism. Policies are forged in webs of meaning. These webs of meaning consist, on the one hand, of values which underwrite the desirability of expected outcomes of policies – and, on the other hand, of assumptions which stipulate that specific policies produce certain effects. The fact that scholars contribute to this web of meaning – by echoing or challenging values as much as applying or refuting stipulations of cause and effect – makes academic or expert knowledge on terrorism as relevant a research objective as policy itself.

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