This collection focuses on the rise of vigilantism and the privatization of armed security in Nigeria from a number of fresh perspectives that move beyond the 'collapsed state' thesis to grasp the more productive and dynamic dimensions of sociality and security both today and during the colonial period. Vigilantism has become an endemic feature of the Nigerian social and political landscape, especially so since the return to democratic rule in 1999. Vigilantes have assumed a status synonymous with the fractured and violence-ridden image of Africa's most populous nation. Beyond fighting crime, vigilante groups such as the O'odua People's Congress, the Bakassi Boys and the shari'a implementation committees represent divergent aspirations for Nigeria's future, and spearhead contemporary political contests over the country's most intractable issues - the politics of democracy, ethnicity and religion.Set against global trends in the privatization of policing, and emergent forms of armed insurgency across the African continent, this collection draws on anthropological and historical perspectives to situate vigilantism within historical trajectories, and within localized idioms of power, knowledge and accountability.
David Pratten is University Lecturer in the Social Anthrology of Africa at the University of Oxford.