Hidden in Plain Sight: Normative Intersectionality in Southern and Western Nigeria


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Centre for Comparative Law in Africa


Mainstream literature tends to treat customary law and state law as antipodal social fields, thereby neglecting the dialogue occurring between them. However, empirical evidence indicates that socio-economic changes are inducing substantial normative adaptations in individuals who observe customary law. These adaptations have significance for the cultural spaces of marginalised voices, since they reveal intersectional forces that question assumptions about the suppression of women and younger male children. This research exposes the nuanced relationship between state law, customary law, and socio-economic forces in contemporary modernity. By revealing normative adaptations occurring in succession, bride wealth, matrimonial property, and commerce in south and western Nigeria, it argues that customary law is steadily being eroded by the intersectional nature of legal, religious, political, and economic changes in social fields.