The Federal Republic of Nigeria 2006

Dmitri M. Bondarenko
Oleg I. Kavykin
Anastasia A. Banschikova

On November 2 – 16, 2006 a team of Russian Cultural Anthropologists from the Institute for African Studies had been doing short-term fieldwork in the Federal Republic of Nigeria (in the cities of Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, and Ile-Ife). The study was an outcome of the initiative of the Center supported by the Russian Foundation for Humanitarian Studies (grants # 06-01-02083а and 06-01-02062а) and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The research team consisted of Anastasia A. Banschikova, Dmitri M. Bondarenko (Head), Oleg I. Kavykin, Daria A. Khaltourina, Andrey V. Korotayev, and Anatoliy D. Savateev.
The fieldwork in Nigeria was regarded as an important integral part of two research projects: “The Image of Contemporary Russia in African Countries: Formation and Specific Features” and “Russia and Islam: A Civilization Dialog”. These projects’ elaboration presupposes a study of the prerequisites for the post-Soviet Russia image’s formation in connection with the history and present-day state of the Soviet- and Russian-African relations, revealing of the image’s characteristic features, of the prospects for and terms of its positive transformation, particularly in the context of the Christian Muslim relations in contemporary world among others.
In the course of the fieldwork, a series of interviews (about 30) with representatives of the intellectual, cultural, business, and political elite, i.e. with people capable of forming and transforming the image of Russia, was conducted. The interviews were conducted according to the plan that included 18 questions; each interview usually took about 40 minutes and was taped. Besides, “round table” on the projects themes with the researchers from the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs was held, and informal discussions of the research problematics with colleagues at the Universities of Lagos and Ibadan took place, as well as with Russian people living in the country permanently for a long time and considered as experts. A photo archive was compiled.
Being supplemented with different evidence from other African countries and Russia, the data collected in Nigeria allows to study for the first time the image of Russia and her citizens in the consciousness of the inhabitants of a whole continent.