Critical terrorism studies and postcolonialism: constructing ungoverned spaces in counter-terrorism discourse in Nigeria

Kodili Henry Chukwuma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


This article explores a neglected question in ongoing debates about counter-terrorism efforts in Nigeria: How is Nigeria’s counter-terrorism strategy discursively framed? The article argues, in part, that Nigeria’s counter-terrorism strategy is essentially a political activity which contributes to the production of a specific Nigerian identity by designating north-eastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin as “ungoverned” spaces. This construction of identity through geography, though, has important implications for policy, identity and security in Nigeria, and beyond. This study of Nigeria, I also argue, presents an opportunity for a much-needed conversation between CTS and postcolonialism for broadening knowledge on discourses around (counter-)terrorism. Drawing upon the concept of space in postcolonial scholarship, this article demonstrates how the relationship between geography, identity and subjectivity offers a broader framework for articulating continuing, and recent, discourses of counter-terrorism. It demonstrates how Nigerian counter-terrorism discourse reproduces, and transforms, well-known Euro-centric and state-centred discourses which intersect with colonial and imperialistic ideas (and practices). In doing so, the article makes two notable contributions: first, it provides a sustained focus on official articulations of counter-terrorism in Nigeria by examining important primary data. Second, in mobilizing the concept of space in postcolonialism, it facilitates crucial theoretical reflections within (critical) terrorism studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-416
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
Issue number2
Early online date11 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • critical terrorism studies
  • discourse
  • postcolonialism
  • space
  • Nigeria

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