PEACE RESEARCH GRANTS
GRANT AWARDEE: Benjamin Maiangwa (Nigeria), PhD Candidate, University of Manitoba, 2017
Rethinking Indigeneity in Postcolonial Africa: Nomadism, Autochthonism, and Ethnographies of Peace and Conflict in Northern Nigeria
This exploratory case study examines farmer-herder conflict in Northern Nigeria with a view to discussing aspects of a broader precolonial, colonial, and post-colonial African crisis bordering on claims to Indigenous rights, and exploring critical and emancipatory peacebuilding approaches. Tensions arising from claims to opposing notions of indigeneity have contributed to conflicts in several parts of Africa. The conflict between the farmer (perceived as autochthonous-indigene) and the herder (recognized as settler-indigene) in Nigeria offers a significant context to explore the stakes of this violent phenomenon.
While scholarly attention on the farmer-herder conflict has mostly emphasized farmers’ positions and the implications of the conflict on their productivity, land ownership, and perceived ‘minority’ status in Northern Nigeria, the herders’ viewpoints have received scant scholarly interest. Therefore, this study will use a critical qualitative research (CQR) methodology including critical ethnographic and narrative inquiry methods of data collection to explore and interrogate the dynamics of farmer-herder conflicts in Northern Nigeria mainly from the herders’ perspectives of the crisis. By doing so, I will highlight both the herders’ ideological position on the nature of the crisis and their resources for peacebuilding. By focusing on herders’ notions of peace and conflict, I will also be underscoring the goal of “critical and emancipatory peacebuilding” theories, which examine how agents—in this instance, Fulani herders—involved in disputes advance their own approaches to peace, resilience building, and problem-solving during conflict and in its aftermath. It is hoped that by documenting Fulani’s resources for peacebuilding, new light will be shed on the group’s identity and contribution to peacemaking and peacebuilding in Nigeria. The study will generate themes that will not only challenge prevailing assumptions about the identity and nature of Fulani pastoralists, but will also underscore the nature of intercommunal crisis in post-colonial Nigeria.