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Scarcity in the Study of Boko Haram in Nigeria: Notes from the Field (2013-2016)

Abstract : Since the national and subsequent international spotlight has been put on Boko Haram in 2009, the Nigerian sect has piqued the curiosity of the academic and non-academic worlds. The continuous stream of scholarly, media and general audience writings focusing on Boko Haram is testament to this. The skirmishes between Boko Haram fighters and the Nigerian security forces in north-eastern Nigeria in July 2009, leading to the extra-judicial killing of Mohammed Yusuf, the sect’s leader, proved to be epochal in shaping and changing the history of the movement—turning it from a fringe radical Islamic sect to an insurgent movement. In the years that have since followed, the multiple narratives that have emerged on various topics relating to Boko Haram have attempted to shape public opinion based on the limited data available on the sect’s activities. Drawing upon an analysis of relevant scholarship and fieldwork data, this article argues that the post-July 2009 policy of the Nigerian government and military has engendered an economy of data scarcity on Boko Haram. This scarcity, which has negatively affected the quality of the outputs disseminated on the sect, can only be addressed through the collection, production and use of more primary data from the field. This article draws upon ethnographic data collected during fieldwork in 2013-2015 in northern Nigeria, and north-eastern Nigeria in particular, to make the argument that the absence of a wider stream of ethnographic data on Boko Haram has encouraged the use of derivative data, and in some cases of no data at all. The anthropological sources of data have to be emphasized in order to fill the glaring gaps which the economy of data scarcity is responsible for, thus affecting the study of Boko Haram.
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Contributor : Bastien Miraucourt <>
Submitted on : Monday, January 4, 2021 - 5:53:15 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 3:36:56 AM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-03095874, version 1



Ini Dele Adedeji. Scarcity in the Study of Boko Haram in Nigeria: Notes from the Field (2013-2016). Sources. Material & Fieldwork in African Studies, IFRA Nairobi, In press, Sources of violence | Sources de la violence. ⟨halshs-03095874⟩



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