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Challenging Global Geographies of Power: Sending Children back to Nigeria from the United Kingdom for Education

  • Pamela Kea (a1) and Katrin Maier (a2)

West Africans have a long history of investing in their children's education by sending them to Britain. Yet, some young British-Nigerians are being sent to Nigeria for secondary education, going against a long historical grain. The movement of children from London to Nigeria is about the making of good subjects who possess particular cultural dispositions and behave in such a manner as to ensure educational success and the reproduction of middle-class subjectivities within neoliberal globalization. We maintain that this movement highlights the way in which global geographies of power—rooted in a colony-metropole divide—are being challenged and reconfigured, serving to provincialize the UK, through the educational choices that Nigerian parents make for their children. Such small acts disrupt imagined geographies and particular spatial and temporal configurations of progress and modernity, in which former colonial subjects have traveled to the metropole for education, while generating counter-narratives about Nigerian education, society, and economy. Yet, the methods used to instill new dispositions and habits in the contemporary Nigerian educational context are informed by the British educational colonial legacy of discipline through corporal punishment—physical punishment was central to the civilizing mission of British colonial educational policy. Consequently, the choice to send children to school in Nigeria and other African countries both challenges global geographies of power and illuminates the continued relevance of the colonial educational legacy and its disciplinary strategies, which are, in turn, part of the broader project of modernity itself.

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