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They Eat Our Sweat: Transport Labor, Corruption, and Everyday Survival in Urban Nigeria (Critical Frontiers of Theory) (Hardcover)
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Accounts of corruption in Africa and the Global South are generally overly simplistic and macro-oriented, and commonly disconnect everyday (petty) corruption from political (grand) corruption. In contrast to this tendency, They Eat Our Sweat offers a fresh and engaging look at the corruption complex in Africa through a micro analysis of its informal transport sector, where collusion between state and nonstate actors is most rife. Focusing on Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital and Africa's largest city, Daniel Agbiboa investigates the workaday world of road transport operators as refracted through the extortion racket and violence of transport unions acting in complicity with the state. Steeped in an embodied knowledge of Lagos and backed by two years of thorough ethnographic fieldwork, including working as an informal bus conductor, Agbiboa provides an emic perspective on precarious labour, popular agency and the daily pursuit of survival under the shadow of the modern world
system. Corruption, Agbiboa argues, is not rooted in Nigerian culture but is shaped by the struggle to get by and get ahead on the fast and slow lanes of Lagos. The pursuit of economic survival compels transport operators to participate in the reproduction of the very transgressive system they denounce. They Eat Our Sweat is not just a book about corruption but also about transportation, politics, and governance in urban Africa.
About the Author
Daniel E. Agbiboa, Harvard University Daniel E. Agbiboa is Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He earned a PhD in International Development from the University of Oxford and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on the relationships between state and nonstate actors in contemporary Africa. He is the recipient of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Distinguished Scholar Award, and is a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. His books include Transport, Transgression and Politics in African Cities: The Rhythm of Chaos (Routledge, 2018), and People, Predicaments and Potentials in Africa (Langaa RPCIG, 2021). He has authored articles in leading journals such as Public Culture, Current History, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, African Studies Review, African Affairs, and Journal of Modern African Studies.