The Dynamics of Informal Markets and Social Networks in Nigeria:
Lagos Auto Spare Parts Market
A Seminar presented by ACLS African Humanities Fellow, Dr. Ekanade Olumide Victor
Dr. Olumide Ekanade, of the Department of History at Redeemer’s University in Nigeria, was in residence for eight weeks at the West African Research Center (WARC). He was one of two African Humanities Fellows in residence at WARC this spring. The other, Dr. Oluwole Coker, of the English Department at Obafemi Awolwo University, was at WARC for is working on a project entitled, “Navigating the Post-Colony: Engagement Strategies in Post-Independence African Fiction.” The African Humanities Fellows program is funded through the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).
On Thursday, April 9, 2015, Dr. Ekanade presented the findings of his research project in a mini-seminar at WARC.
A lot has been written on the economic value of social networks in Informal economies yet so little emphasis is laid on its functionality in the organization of social existence outside the framework of the state. Dr. Ekanade’s work examines the evolution and dynamics of diverse associations and their intersecting interactions in Ladipo market. It analyses the plethora of rural cultures imported into the urban setting and how they have shaped social life in Ladipo.
Its focus is on the way in which social networks have acted as essential social ingredients that facilitate the success of market relations and in the larger context foster harmonious intergroup relations among Nigerians. Dr. Ekanade’s work explores these developments from the perspective of the traders and artisans whose motives and goals are grossly understudied and misrepresented. In Nigeria, these networks have acted as platforms for building bridges across ethnic divides in the fragile and deeply fractured Nigerian state.
Dr. Ekanade spoke about the ways in which traders in this informal, multi-ethnic urban market organize their social existence such that there are seamless market and extra market interactions among them. His research also suggests that such a model can be replicated as a template for peaceful coexistence in the larger Nigerian multi-ethnic nation.
Following the presentation, the audience engaged in lively interactions with Dr. Ekanade. The questions and comments from the audience represent significant contributions and will no doubt be taken into account as Dr. Ekanade pursues his research and prepares a final draft of this particular study. There were ten participants in this seminar.