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The word “corruption” in Nigeria has a broader range of meanings than in the West, and it coexists with other traditions of condemning governmental malpractice. Nigeria’s problems with corruption can only be understood through simultaneous attention to local histories of government malpractice and the evolution of international discourses about corruption. This book follows traditions of engaging in and critiquing corruption that emerged in Hausa-speaking regions of northern Nigeria and follows these traditions as they came into conversation with other political traditions across the twentieth century. It also traces the history of European understandings of “corruption” from political philosophers through eighteenth and nineteenth century political reformers, only taking on its full contemporary formulation under the influence of modernization theorists in the mid-twentieth century. In the final analysis, talking about corruption must be understood as a form of politics and political work.

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