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Chapter Three - The Construction of Minorities

Late Imperial Secularity and the Constitutional Politics of Decolonization

from Part II - Constituting Difference

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 May 2023

Rabiat Akande
Affiliation:
Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto
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Summary

The chapter chronicles the emergence of religious minorities in late colonial constitutional politics. Efforts to actualize the missionary dream of winning souls took the form of self-determination advocacy in the late colonial years with Protestant advocates constructing the religious minorities as the group seeking self-determination. Although the religious minorities emerged to resist colonial rule, paradoxically, making that identity affirmed the Muslim-non-Muslim classification central to colonial governance. By telling a story of the oppression of Christians and diverse indigenous faiths based on their status as non-Muslims, Protestant advocates constructed an identity centered on its antithesis to Islam. That binary failed to capture the complex forms of exclusion that colonial governance of religion entailed. Although it purported to be inclusive of all non-Muslim concerns, self-determination advocacy overwhelmingly privileged the Protestant experience. Moreover, the religious minorities' identity excluded Muslim populations marginalized in the colonial state. The ultimate consequence was that the religious minorities project opened new doors to inequality.

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Chapter
Information
Entangled Domains
Empire, Law and Religion in Northern Nigeria
, pp. 107 - 143
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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