Child labor in southern Nigeria : 1880s to 1955

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2012-08

Authors

Paddock, Adam

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Abstract

The dissertation evaluates changes in child labor practices in the Southern Provinces of Nigeria during the colonial period from the 1880s to the 1950s. The argument concludes that child labor was part of a socializing, educational, and survival strategy prior to colonial conquest. British policies influenced by civilizing mission ideology and indirect rule fundamentally altered the relationship between children and their families. Child labor in Nigeria's cultural context was neither completely exploitative nor beneficial, but had the capacity to affect children in both ways depending on specific circumstances. Child labor initially existed in the context of the kinship group, but during the first half of the twentieth century child labor increasingly became an independent strategy outside the confines of the kinship environment, which was a direct result of social and economic change. The research underscores the central position of child labor in the Nigerian economy and the British colonial agenda. Towards the end of colonial rule, child labor issues composed part of the anti-colonial movement as it assisted discontent elites to gain support beyond coastal cities.

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