fbpx BSC Book Talk: They Eat Our Sweat: Transport Labor, Corruption, and Survival in Urban Nigeria | Harvard Kennedy School
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Date and Location

February 6, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST
L-p-9 Malkin Penthouse



The informal transportation network, characteristic of many African cities, is notoriously dangerous. In Lagos, drivers are constantly threatened and forced to pay bribes; they suffer health problems like hypertension and partial blindness, and accidents are common. Fear is a form of governance. The police and the union extract money from transport drivers and share it with each other. The money passes up the ranks, to the union authorities and to political leaders.


In this book talk, you will hear about the author’s first-hand experience as a minibus conductor in Lagos as a way to better understand the culture and complexity of corruption, and learn more about how such a harrowing and corrupt system can endure.


This is a hybrid event. Please register in advance. Room attendance is limited to Harvard ID-holders and seating availability is based on a first-come, first-served basis.


Lunch will be served. Please arrive at 11:45am to allow for lunch, seating, and a prompt start at 12pm.




Speaker Bio:

Daniel E. Agbiboa is Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He earned a PhD in International Development from the University of Oxford, and an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on how state and nonstate forms of order and authority interpenetrate and shape each other, and the relationship between mobility, power, and politics in urban Africa. He is the author of They Eat Our Sweat: Transport Labor, Corruption, and Everyday Survival in Urban Nigeria (Oxford University Press, 2022: Finalist, Global Development Studies Best Book Award) and Mobility, Mobilization, and Counter/Insurgency: The Routes of Terror in an African Context (University of Michigan Press, 2022: Winner, ISA Peace Best Book by a Global South Scholar); co-author of People, Predicaments and Potentials in Africa (Langaa RPCIG, 2021); and editor of Transport, Transgression and Politics in African Cities: The Rhythm of Chaos (Routledge, 2019). He is a recipient of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Distinguished Scholar Award and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Speakers and Presenters

​Daniel E. Agbiboa, Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University


Additional Organizers

​Building State Capability