Beyond the Modern: Muslim Youth Imaginaries of Nation in Northern Nigeria


The rise of different nationalisms in an increasingly unequal and neoliberal world makes predictions about the dawn of a post-national, global society seem both incongruous and fraught with Eurocentric occlusions. In response, we present a postcolonial analysis of research into Muslim youth narratives of nation in Northern Nigeria. This highlights the continued significance of nation for youth as well as the historical fractures – both internal and external – that infused their identity narratives. We further show the entanglement of nation and religion in youth imaginaries, and their anti-colonial ambivalences, notably with respect to gender reforms. Our analysis calls for a sociology of nation that goes beyond a modern framing and instead attends to the agonistic affective relations through which national imaginaries are constructed; the historical sutures that were intrinsic to the creation of postcolonial nations and their enduring persistence as points of fracture.