Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Metaphorical Concepts, Ethno-Reinforcing Knowledge, and Contemporary Analysis of Nigerian Politics and Violence

Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Metaphorical Concepts, Ethno-Reinforcing Knowledge, and Contemporary Analysis of Nigerian Politics and Violence

Article excerpt

Introduction

Like many areas of inquiry, studies of political conflicts and violence have grown in importance in this globalised world as conceptual and empirical advances explain ethno-national conflicts, wars, religious violence, and terrorism. However, -while analysts explore the concerns that affect the nature and process of conflicts and violence in order to help in understanding ramifying practical problems, they regularly create knowledge and concepts that have strong effects on the parties. From the researchers' struggles for filtering the phenomena of conflicts through metaphorical concepts, the extent to which impacts are made on the conflicts in one way or another, remains un-examined. The link between the research concepts and the exacerbation of violence to echo Foucault's theoretical insight in a different context remains silent in the calm face of a knowledge, which knowing too much about violence forgets it.1 This means that the language and theories researchers use in their studies, whose meanings can serve as further instruments of ethnic contestations has often been erased from the terrain of conflict interventions.

Therefore, the language of researchers must be explored, if we are to gain insights into constructions of violence and understand the relationship between researchers and the interpretations they offer. For this reason, this study raises the relationship between analysis of conflicts and violence on the nature and process of conflicts. I argue that the way analysts of conflicts are increasingly insensitive to their use of words help to construct and circulate reproductive meanings that feed back into the conflicts. I locate the effects of analysis of conflicts in the descriptive terms, clichés, and concepts that analysts of Nigerian politics produce as they grasp the multi-dimensional conflicts and politics in the country. Hence, my study is particularly interested in directing attention to the categories and language that analysts use in their research. I argue that research language plays an important role in changing the dynamics of conflicts. It creates meanings that (re)position people in terms of where they stand in conflicts and power relationships. This means that writings about conflicts and violence are not innocent practice. Thus, there is the need for analysts of conflicts to incorporate reflexive modes and moments in their studies. Reflexivity has a self-critical potential. It is an effort to apply a form of analysis to itself in order to expose and understand the epistemological limits, effects and implications of research.

We focus on three materials in this study. First is Osaghae's characterisation of contemporary Nigeria as a 'crippled giant', which draws inspiration from Nigeria's political contradictions. Although Nigeria comprises a single geographically unitary political state, its population is a complex mixture of diverse ethnic, linguistic and cultural origin, only brought together under a single government by British colonial administration. Under British rule this diversity mattered little, and indeed the British recruited their local military from the North, while introducing the Christian religion into the Southern parts of the territory, and apart from introducing a common, unifying administrative and educational system and keeping the peace generally, took little interest in breaking down the differences between the local groups. Indeed, critics of colonialism argue that the very diversity of Nigeria's population contributed to the security of the colonial overlords. When independence suddenly came, after Britain had been weakened by World War II, the Nigerian population inherited a country united only by the Western-style administrative system and by a common territory, which united many different peoples, some of which had much closer connections to neighbors who lived outside the Nigerian borders than to other communities that lived wholly within those borders. …

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