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The Pan-African NationOil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria$
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Andrew Apter

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780226023540

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226023564.001.0001

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The Politics of Illusion

The Politics of Illusion

(p.223) Chapter Seven The Politics of Illusion
The Pan-African Nation
University of Chicago Press

This chapter illustrates how the seeing-is-believing of the oil boom gave way to the visual deceptions of the oil bust, a social world not of objects and things but of smoke and mirrors, a business culture of worthless currency, false facades, and empty value forms. Oil, the “underlying” substance of economic value, might lend credibility to Nigerian business ventures. But its pathways—from public institutions into private coffers—have become uncertain. The chapter suggests that there is more to the relationship between cash and politics than mere influence peddling or vote buying. It tries to penetrate the illusion that characterizes the everyday practice of “419” (a section in the Nigerian criminal code), in order to grasp a more fundamental transformation of value that occurred during IBB's dictatorship, a transformation that produced a national crisis of representation with thoroughgoing political and theoretical implications.

Keywords:   oil boom, economic value, business ventures, Nigerian business, public institutions, business culture

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