What does duress mean in the lives of those who are not by definition understood to be living in duress—namely, upwardly mobile young people in a relatively peaceful city in southeast Nigeria? In this article, I try to answer that question by presenting the life story of Azu, a young designer in Enugu who has made his way out of a poverty-stricken background through a relatively successful entrepreneurship.His biography, based on interviews and observations, and partially through a shared experience of constraint in Nigeria, serves as an example of duress in the lives of those who—by family, educational background, or career success—are considered “well-off” compared with most youths in the country. I argue that duress for these youths is informed by social expectations due to their acquired status as much as by the sociopolitical uncertainties that they have been confronted with throughout their lives.
INGE LIGTVOET is a PhD candidate at the Leiden University Institute for History. She is currently writing her dissertation on the ways in which upwardly mobile youth in southeast Nigeria navigate their lives in a context of experiencing long-term socioeconomic uncertainty and political insecurity. The dissertation has a particular focus on young people’s use of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially social media like Facebook and WhatsApp. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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