Anchored in History: Understanding the Persistence of Eco-Violence in Nigeria’s Middle Belt through Collective Memory

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The Nigerian Middle Belt is the epicentre of violent conflicts between Fulani herders and sedentary farmers over land and agricultural resources called eco-violence; existing research has not adequately addressed the persistence of these conflicts. Using Social Representations Theory (SRT), this paper examines empirical case studies conducted in April 2018 and May 2022 in Benue State, Nigeria, to determine why these conflicts persist. The paper argues that contending parties anchor, objectify, and socially represent past contestations in pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial Nigeria in present-day realities and events in the Middle Belt, leading to the re-experience of collective memories and their consequences on people’s violent collective behaviour. Consequently, people resort to violence to redress present grievances viewed through the prism of past events. To promote sustainable peace when tackling deeply-rooted conflicts, it is essential to comprehend the historical context and the significance of collective memory while employing a comprehensive strategy for conflict resolution. Implementing the Cognitive Reappraisal Technique to address issues related to collective memories is critical to this approach.
Original languageEnglish
Article number45
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2023

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