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Rejecting Continuity and Rupture

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Arguments for Historical Syncretism in Understanding Bureaucracy in Contemporary South-Eastern Nigeria

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

Patronage and financial corruption are rife in the contemporary Nigerian state and have gained widespread social acceptance, indicating a belief that it is legitimate to appropriate state resources for personal gain. In this paper I concentrate on the historical antecedents of this state of affairs. Focusing on the Igbo-speaking south-east of the country, I argue that an understanding of contemporary Nigeria must be based on a syncretic analysis: that is, a combination of influences from pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial eras. Despite this, the colonial era should not be downplayed as an influence, as some have sought to argue. In particular, I argue that the imposition of warrant chiefs in previously acephalous communities with participatory governance engendered a belief that government did not belong to local people.

Affiliations: 1: UCL Institute for Global Health30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EHUKc.willott@ucl.ac.uk

10.1163/15692108-12341315
/content/journals/10.1163/15692108-12341315
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2014-12-10
2017-11-21

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