Postcolonial Angst and the Nigerian scholarly estate

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Praised for their courageous stance against the violation of voice, rights and freedoms by the state and against the economic encroachment of international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, universities in many African countries have achieved an enviable national visibility, exceeding by far the socio-political prominence of their counterparts in more industrialized societies. Yet even as they have received approbation for their role in resisting oppression and state terrorism, the academy and its most prominent intellectuals have often been publicly reviled as the acquiescent apparatus of repressive regimes. Within the unfolding polit ical development of African societies, the university has served conflicting functions of legitimization, resistance and social reproductions that have corresponded to the ambivalence of identity of its most critical forces: scholars, students and their unions. This paper explores the conflicted sense of role and identity apparent in Nigerian universities and the socio-political arenas within which such conflicts are being negotiated. While the literature suggests that the role played by scholars in popular resistance to the oppressive state has engendered an erosion of the town and gown complex, I argue here that this is a misleading understanding of the realities in Nigeria and in countries with similar trajectories. © 2005 by Association of Third World Studies, Inc.

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Journal of Third World Studies

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