This article explores the social reproduction of ‘corruption’ in Nigeria, using ethnographic data collected in the Igbo-speaking southeast. The author argues that corruption must be understood in the context of everyday instances of patro- nage as they occur in networks of kin, community, and interpersonal association. Kin- ship relationships, and other social ties rooted in similar moral obligations and affective attachments, enable Igbos to navigate Nigeria’s clientelistic political economy. They also serve to perpetuate an ethic of appropriate redistribution that fuels corruption. The article analyzes a deep-seated ambivalence that is created as the reciprocal obli- gations of kinship articulate with structures of power and inequality that characterize contemporary Nigeria. Rather than withering away as Nigeria modernizes, the in- strumental importance of kinship and community of origin may be greater than ever.
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