Moral Economies of Corruption

State Formation and Political Culture in Nigeria

Moral Economies of Corruption

Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 4 illustrations Published: February 2016

Author: Steven Pierce

African Studies, History > World History, Politics > Political Science

Nigeria is famous for "419" e-mails asking recipients for bank account information and for scandals involving the disappearance of billions of dollars from government coffers. Corruption permeates even minor official interactions, from traffic control to university admissions. In Moral Economies of Corruption Steven Pierce provides a cultural history of the last 150 years of corruption in Nigeria as a case study for considering how corruption plays an important role in the processes of political change in all states. He suggests that corruption is best understood in Nigeria, as well as in all other nations, as a culturally contingent set of political discourses and historically embedded practices. The best solution to combatting Nigerian government corruption, Pierce contends, is not through attempts to prevent officials from diverting public revenue to self-interested ends, but to ask how public ends can be served by accommodating Nigeria's history of patronage as a fundamental political principle.


"Pierce constantly offers unique ways of looking at the stereotypes and assumptions westerners have about Nigerian corruption." — Anna Faktorovich, Pennsylvania Literary Journal

"Moral Economies of Corruption is not only rich history, but also a theoretically insightful analysis that has much to offer beyond its particularism. Scholars interested in corruption in other parts of Africa, and in other regions of the world, will find much to ponder and appreciate." — Daniel Jordan Smith, American Ethnologist

"[T]his is a superb and path-breaking book. Through meticulous attention to detail, it builds an argument that is as important as it is compelling. And, ironically, it is by refusing to compromise on historical and cultural specificity that it makes its most important contribution to understanding and engaging critically and constructively with a global discourse." — Kate Hampshire, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"The strength of Pierce’s book is the depth of its historical excavation and the synchronization of relevant data on the diverse forms of corruption across Nigeria’s multitudinous ethnicities at different periods in the country’s over one hundred years of statehood." — John Olushola Magbadelo, African Studies Quarterly

"A book that one could recommend to anyone concerned with Nigeria and its political culture." — Kawu Bala, Political Studies Review

"Pierce makes a significant contribution to the analysis of corruption in Nigeria by going beyond the dominant Eurocentric and neo-Weberian analyses, which are couched in universalistic, Eurocentric, and derogatory terms. . . . A useful addition to the study of Nigeria’s contemporary history and political culture." — Jeremiah Dibua, American Historical Review

"[An] intriguing attempt to comprehend the dynamics of corruption using Nigeria as case study." — Omobolaji Ololade Olarinmoye, Journal of Modern African Studies

"Nigerian corruption has attracted the attention of numerous scholars over the years, and this has given rise to a plethora of insightful analyses, from several different angles. However, Steven Pierce ... offers a new perspective and fresh insight into the discourse. ... Pierce has written a valuable book that focuses our attention on the fundamental problem of corruption in Nigeria." — Azeez Olaniyan, African Studies Review

"In this superb book Steven Pierce takes us to the ur-capital of imagined corruption in Africa. Challenging conventional understandings of the term corruption, Pierce embeds the practice in the political, colonial, and cultural history of northern Nigeria and provides a historical analysis of the term, showing how it traveled to new contexts, assumed new meanings, and slid into an array of other terms and practices. Moral Economies of Corruption is a brilliant contribution to the timeliest of topics in African studies today."  — Charles Piot, author of Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War

"Steven Pierce has written an illuminating and path-breaking work on the nexus of corruption and statecraft in Nigeria. The comparative implications of Pierce's analysis are boundless and will no doubt enrich theoretical- and policy-oriented discussions on corruption across disciplinary and geographical fields. Moral Economies of Corruption is a significant and iconoclastic addition to the growing scholarly literature on corruption, malfeasance, and vice." — Moses E. Ochonu, author of Africa in Fragments: Essays on Nigeria, Africa, and Global Africanity


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Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Steven Pierce is Senior Lecturer in Modern African History at the University of Manchester. He is the coeditor of Discipline and the Other Body: Correction, Corporeality, Colonialism, also published by Duke University Press, and the author of Farmers and the State in Colonial Kano: Land Tenure and the Legal Imagination.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction: Corruption Discourse and the Performance of Politics  1

Part I. From Caliphate to Federal Republic

1. A Tale of Two Emirs: Colonialism and Bureaucratizing Emirates, 1900–1948  27

2. The Political Time: Ethnicity and Violence, 1948–1970  63

3. Oil and the "Army Arrangement": Corruption and the Petro-State, 1970–1999  105

Part II. Corruption, Nigeria, and the Moral Imagination

4. Moral Economies of Corruption  153

5. Nigerian Corruption and the Limits of the State  188

Conclusion  219

Notes  231

Bibliography  257

Index  277
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6091-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6077-3
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