Department of History and Center for Humanities Research,
University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
ICGC Fellow, University of Minnesota, Fall 2011
FRIDAY 16 SEPTEMBER
537 HELLER HALL
In this presentation, I seek to problematize prevailing views of what is known as aso ebi in Nigeria which place emphasis on solidarity and conviviality. In its most common import, Aso ebi refers to uniformed solidarity dressing worn by friends and family members to distinguish themselves from the rest during important social events such as weddings, street parties, birthday parties, among others. By challenging the moral economy of intimacy, I show that aso ebi's solidarity is constructed along bodily attire rather than along its purported claims to 'real' friendship or unity. The presentation shows that aso ebi's type of friendly and political solidarities are mere rhetoric. They are also indirectly forceful and exclusionary. Their exclusionary tendencies could have been informed by a social convention that recognizes uniform as the only yardstick for measuring solidarity, friendship and oneness. By employing Herbert Blumer's theoretical models of espirit de corps, and Marcel Mauss' logic of the gifts, I both engage the discourse of solidarity and gift-giving in aso ebi practice.