How Soldiers Think: Law and Dictatorship in Nigeria
Friday, October 22, 2021 - 9:30am to 11:00am
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For most of its first forty years of independence, Nigeria was ruled by its military. Soldiers ran the country like they fought wars. They insisted that only a martial "revolution" would free Nigeria from the constraints of colonialism, and they overthrew civilians and fellow soldiers alike with alacrity. They approached every political problem like a battle to be "won," and they were willing to do almost anything to ensure victory. They treated their political rivals like enemies - not just people with different visions, but adversaries who had to be annihilated. Using legal records to describe their political philosophy, "How Soldiers Think" examines how law and militarism intersected in postcolonial Africa. In Nigeria and elsewhere, soldiers saw judges as partners in their attempts to "discipline" their countries, including through tribunals, martial law, customary law, and commissions of inquiry. Only some judges shared their vision, and politics became a tussle between men with gavels and men with guns. This history tells the story of the people caught between them.
Samuel Fury Childs Daly is Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, History, and International Comparative Studies at Duke University. His first book, A History of the Republic of Biafra: Law, Crime, and the Nigerian Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2020), won the 2021 J. Willard Hurst Prize from the Law and Society Association.
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