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When Neutrality is Taboo. Navigating Institutional Identity in Protracted Conflict Settings - the Nigerian Ife/Modakeke Case

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image of African and Asian Studies
For more content, see Journal of Asian and African Studies.

This paper explores the means by which social institutions located in African communities that are deeply and violently polarized along ethnic-related lines, navigate the institutional role and identity within such a local environment. Utilizing a case study of ethno-political conflict in the Ile-Ife and Modakeke communities of South Western Nigeria, the paper investigates how the local academy has sought to survive as a zone of diversities located in host cit(ies) with rigidly structured mythicohistories and conflicting geopolitical claims. Through this exploration of the paradox of the uneasy cohabitation of contested realities and the quest for postwar healing and rehabilitation, the paper unveils the unusual local interpretation, rejection and reconstruction of the concept of neutrality, and highlights the challenges, both philosophical and concrete, which confront the academy. The findings of the study suggest a need to cautiously, but decidedly, resituate the university as a civically engaged arena for the creative re-envisioning of diversity and cultural pluralism and ultimately for local and national conflict transformation in Nigeria.


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