Progressivism and Mobility in Nigeria's Fourth Republic


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development (CHSD)


Contestation over who can move and over what sorts of spatial or social mobility are permitted to various groups have played a central role in the development of the local political tradition of ‘progressivism' which has been associated with the city of Lagos since the nationalist period of Nigerian history. However, while discourses of progress have remained in force, the normative content of 'progressivism' has evolved from its early Fabian socialist roots which prioritised ‘enlightenment' and concern for the advancement of the poor. Instead, societal progress is now no longer directly aimed at wider social mobility or at urgently ameliorating oppressive social conditions, but rather translated into a ‘mega-city' vision of transforming Lagos into a premier investment destination. This study aims to explore shifting conceptions of mobility in the politics of Lagos through a historical and contemporary consideration of the evolution and effects of the ideology of progressivism.