Hell was let loose on the country: The Social History of Military Technology in the Republic of Biafra
Copyright © African Studies Association 2018. The problem of armed crime in late twentieth-century Nigeria was closely connected to the events of the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). Legal records from the secessionist Republic of Biafra reveal how violent crime emerged as part of the military confrontation between Biafra and Nigeria. The wide availability of firearms, the Biafran state's diminishing ability to enforce the law, and the gradual collapse of Biafra's economy under the pressure of a Nigerian blockade made Biafran soldiers and civilians reliant on their weapons to obtain food and fuel, make claims to property, and settle disputes with one another. Criminal legal records illustrate how military technologies shape interactions and relationships in the places where they are deployed, and how those dynamics can endure after the war comes to an end. This speaks to larger theoretical questions about the symbolic and functional meanings of guns during and after wartime.
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