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Lawyers' Professionalism, Colonialism, State Formation and National Life in Nigeria, 1900-1960: 'The Fighting Brigade of the People'


Chidi Oguamanam


University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Wesley Pue


University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law; University of British Columbia

October 2, 2006


Abstract:     
This essay explores the role of the organized legal profession in relation to British Imperialism, state formation, and independence in Nigeria. Drawing on recent works in the fields of post-colonial legal studies and cultural histories of legal professions, the paper develops an understanding of lawyering and lawyers' associations as deeply implicated in the myriad cultural projects through which law simultaneously 'civilizes' provincials and mediates between centre and locale. The paper reviews new developments in theories of legal professionalism and surveys secondary literatures of lawyers in colonial processes. It assesses the historical processes linking imperialism, law, and lawyers from the establishment of British rule in Nigeria through to independence. The causes célèbres involving the traditional authority of the Eleko of Lagos and the Emir of Kano are appraised. The two cases reveal the double-edged character of legal resistance to Imperialism, and the complex matrix of Nigeria's geo-political terrain. Lawyers profoundly challenged Empire while simultaneously constituting unprecedented forms of identity: legal rights claims, articulated within western liberalism's classic legal form, sought to secure a single Nigerian nationalism, constituting a sovereign Westphalian-style state from Nigeria's diverse and far-flung peoples.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 17

Keywords: lawyers, legal profession, colonialism, British Empire, Nigeria, professionalism, legal history

JEL Classification: K40, K49

working papers series


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Date posted: January 21, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Oguamanam, Chidi and Pue, Wesley, Lawyers' Professionalism, Colonialism, State Formation and National Life in Nigeria, 1900-1960: 'The Fighting Brigade of the People' (October 2, 2006). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=953313 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.953313

Contact Information

Chidi Oguamanam (Contact Author)
University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )
57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

Wesley Pue
University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law ( email )
1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada
University of British Columbia ( email )
2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada
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