Road Mythographies: Space, Mobility, and the Historical Imagination in Postcolonial Niger

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Abstract

In this article, I explore how some Hausaphone Mawri in postcolonial Niger materialize their experience of modernity. I examine the fundamental role that space plays in local perceptions of modernity by discussing stories people tell about what happens on the road. In particular, I focus on their attention to the road as part of a complex economy of violence, power, and blood. By linking the road and its deadly spirits to the region's history of civil engineering, emergent capitalism, and religious transformation, I show that rather than simply being iconic of modernity, the road is a hybrid space that condenses past histories at the same time that it concretizes the perils and possibilities of modern life for rural Mawri. [space, roads, mobility, modernity, imagination, spirits, Niger]

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