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The Transformation of Rural Labour Systems in Colonial and Post-Colonial Northern Nigeria


  • Kohnert, Dirk


The study attempts to highlight the interrelation between three central points in the ongoing debate on the political economy of development: viability, surplus, and class-formation. A case study of the development of rural labour systems in Northern Nigeria is meant to provide both a better qualitative and quantitative idea of this interrelation. After an analysis of the socio-economic effects of forced and bonded labour during colonial times, the articulation of different systems of family and non-family labour has been investigated. Class-specific effects of labour and capital input do even result in an increasing use of communal labour by rich and middle peasants after the Nigerian Civil War: its form remains, but its content changes fundamentally. The socio-economic and material base for small-scale peasant subsistence production has been gradually destroyed.

Suggested Citation

  • Kohnert, Dirk, 1986. "The Transformation of Rural Labour Systems in Colonial and Post-Colonial Northern Nigeria," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 13(4), pages 258-271.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:espost:118629

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simmons, Emmy B., 1975. "The Small-Scale Rural Food-Processing Industry in Northern Nigeria," Food Research Institute Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, vol. 14(2), pages 1-16.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kohnert, Dirk, 2022. "La Russie et la montée du terrorisme islamique en Afrique subsaharienne [Russia and the rise of Islamic terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa]," MPRA Paper 113253, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Kohnert, Dirk, 2019. "The impact of the EU-MERCOSUR deal on Africa in times of growing protectionism," MPRA Paper 95901, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Kohnert, Dirk, 2019. "L'impact de l'accord UE-MERCOSUR sur l'Afrique à l’heure de protectionnisme croissant [The impact of the EU-MERCOSUR deal on Africa in times of growing protectionism]," MPRA Paper 95926, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Kohnert, Dirk, 2022. "Russia and the rise of Islamic terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa," MPRA Paper 113618, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item


    labour systems; rural development; Nigeria; Africa; African History;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania
    • P48 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State
    • P52 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - Comparative Studies of Particular Economies


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