Taxing times: taxation, religious conflict and the informal economy in Northern Nigeria

Date: 5 May 2015

Venue: UAntwerp - Stadscampus - Building S - First floor - Nile Room - Lange Sint Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerp

Time: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: IOB

Short description: IOB Seminar by Kate Meagher

This seminar seeks to challenge the notion that taxing the informal economy provides a mechanism for increasing popular political voice and rebuilding the social contract. It highlights important weaknesses in the taxation and informality literature, relating to a tendency to gloss over historical differences in the role of taxation in state formation, and adherence to a fiscally essentialist and undifferentiated notion of the informal economy. 

Drawing on fieldwork in northern Nigeria, I consider how taxation of informal activities affects inter-group and state-society relations in a context of regional and ethnic tensions and severe religious conflict. Focusing on a range of informal activities, including motorcycle taxis, tyre traders, pepper soup joints, butchers and tailors, I examine how different forms of informal organization interact with various types of taxation and levies, and how these affect livelihoods, attitudes to taxation, and relations with the state among various social groups within the informal economy.

Attention is drawn to the differentiation of the effects of taxation on political voice based on social identities of gender, indigeneity and religion. Questions are raised about the extent to which taxation alters or reinforces older identity-based mechanisms of accountability.

Kate Meagher is an Associate Professor in Development Studies at the Department of International Development, London School of Economics. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Oxford, and previously lectured at the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria. Current research interests include informal institutions, hybrid governance, religion and economic informality, youth unemployment and the politics of informality.

Entrance fee: Free entrance

Registration: Compulsary to

Contact email:

Contact phone: +32 3 265 52 96