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The Study of Ethnicity in Nigeria


  • Ukoha Ukiwo


In this article it is argued that, although the study of ethnicity in Nigeria bears the imprint of almost all the different perspectives that have been deployed towards the study of ethnicity; perspectives that privilege the role of the state and critical elites in ethnic mobilization have dominated the literature. Apart from the tenuous explanation of false consciousness, a lot remains to be known about why, when and how followers enlist (or do not enlist) in ethnic conflicts. Moreover, analysts have paid more attention to inter-ethnic than intra-ethnic conflicts because the cohesion of ethnic groups is often taken for granted. The literature is also very thin on the phenomenon of inter-ethnic accommodation and co-operation. It is suggested in this paper that a systematic examination of horizontal inequalities, that is, inequalities that arise from the differential access members of different ethnic groups have to lucrative political, economic and social resources, will provide insights into the often neglected popular basis of ethnic conflicts. Explanations will also be offered as to why some inter-ethnic relations are marked by violent conflict while others have been more peaceful.

Suggested Citation

  • Ukoha Ukiwo, 2005. "The Study of Ethnicity in Nigeria," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 7-23.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:33:y:2005:i:1:p:7-23
    DOI: 10.1080/13600810500099592

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    Cited by:

    1. Mahmoud Alfa & John Marangos, 2016. "An empirical appraisal of the role of money in Nigerian politics," International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 9(1), pages 65-88.
    2. Graham Brown & Arnim Langer, 2010. "Conceptualizing and Measuring Ethnicity," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 411-436.

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