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Yoruba Hometowns: Community, Identity, and Development in Nigeria

Lillian Trager
Yoruba Hometowns: Community, Identity, and Development in Nigeria
ISBN: 978-1-55587-949-5
ISBN: 978-1-55587-981-5
2001/299 pages/LC: 00-066503

"This richly detailed study of Ijesa community development, which focuses on recent innovetions as well as on continuities with the past, is an important addition to Yoruba studies and to processes of change in southwestern Nigeria."—Elisha P. Renne, International Journal of African Historical Studies

"Useful and thought-provoking ... a very well-written account."—Aili Mari Tripp, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"This is Trager's chef-d'oeuvre, a rich study of the strong ties Yoruba migrants maintain with their hometowns in Nigeria, and a pioneering explorations of the implications for development. The case studies of hometown celebrations, organizations, and individual lives are wonderful."—Josef Gugler


The pattern of migrants maintaining strong ties with their home communities is particularly common in sub-Saharan Africa, where it has important social, cultural, political, and economic implications. Lillian Trager explores the significance of hometown connections for civil society and local development in Nigeria. Rich ethnographic description and case studies illustrate the links that the Ijesa Yoruba maintain with their communities of origin—links that both help to shape social identity and contribute to local development.

Trager also examines indigenous concepts of "development," demonstrating how the Ijesa Yoruba bring their understandings of development to efforts in their own communities. Placing her work in the context of national political and economic change, she raises questions about the motivations, implications, and consequences of local development efforts, not only for the communities and their members, but also for the larger polity.

A companion video is also available. For information, contact Kate Pietri at


The late Lillian Trager was professor of anthropology at University of Wisconsin-Parkside.


  • Introduction.
  • Community Day Celebrations: A New Tradition at Home.
  • Knowing Your Place: Hometown and Identity.
  • "We Are Just Sojourners Here": Ijesa Migration.
  • "We Love Ourselves Abroad": Hometown Organizations and Their Members.
  • Ceremonies and Celebrations: The Symbolism of Hometown Links.
  • Local Development and the Economic Crisis.
  • Self-Help and the Practice of Local Development in Ijesaland.
  • The Elusive Goal of Unity: Politics, Conflict, and Morality.
  • Conclusion: Communities and Development.