Boko Haram – An Annotated Bibliography


Update 27 March 2013 – an updated version of this bibliography is available here.


This is an incomplete bibliography, but includes the pieces I’ve read while writing a piece on questions of territory in relation to Boko Haram (see some earlier thoughts here). The bibliography doesn’t include newspaper or online news stories. I’ve included web links where possible, and indicated if pieces are open access or require subscription. I’d welcome corrections and further suggestions for reading on this event and related questions.

For those new to the topic, I’d suggest that Davis, Pham 2012 and Walker are the best places to start (all open access), perhaps followed by one of the Adesoji pieces and Elkaim, Omede and Thomson. Robertson is a disturbing indication of possible U.S.-led pre-emptive interventions.

Adesoji, Abimbola O. (2011) “Between Maitatsine and Boko Haram: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Response of the Nigerian State”, Africa Today, Vol 57 No 4, pp. 98-119. [subscription required]

Mainly looks at the 2009 events associated with Boko Haram, and compares them to the Maitatsine [‘the one who damns’, named after the preacher Muhammed Marwa] uprisings of the 1980s. That provides a useful longer term background to more recent events. Some of the socio-economic analysis is quite useful. It suggests, though without much evidence, that Boko Haram is getting support from global jihadist groups and specifically claims “affinity with the North Africa branch of Al-Qaeda” (Adesoji 2011, p. 105). The most useful part for me was the description of the ‘Boko Haram riots’ of 26-30 July 2009 which followed the attack on the group’s hideout in the Dutsen Tenshin area of Bauchi. These riots occurred in the states of Bauchi, Kano, Yobe, and Borno, especially the last. The group’s leader Ustaz Mohammed Yusof was captured and killed in police custody. Over 700 people died in these protests, the riots and the crackdown. Quite helpful on membership and affiliation.

Adesoji, Abimbola (2010) “The Boko Haram Uprising and Islamic Revivalism in Nigeria”, Africa Spectrum, Vol 45 No 2, pp. 95-108. [open access]

This article is very similar to Adesoji 2011, but with more of a focus on recent events.

Aghedo, Iro and Osumah, Oarhe (2012) “The Boko Haram Uprising: How Should Nigeria Respond?Third World Quarterly, Vol 33 No 5, pp. 853-69. [subscription required]

A useful survey of the available literature, with a methodological focus and use of some interviews. Helpful background on other and earlier non-state violence within the territory of Nigeria, suggesting that Boko Haram should be understood as one group among many. Notes the group has existed under a variety of names, including “Ahlulsunna wai’jama’ah hijra and… the ‘Nigerian Taliban’ and ‘Yusufiyyah’ sect” (Aghedo and Osumah 2012, p. 858), and that the group probably exists in two main factions (p. 859). Notes the “country’s porous borders” as helping the group in terms of movement of people and arms (p. 863). “In August 2011 the commander of US Africa Command held that the BH has ties with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Somalia’s al-Shabaab” (p. 864). Calls for a “human security approach rather than the current emphasis on a repressive state security approach” (p. 853) within Nigeria.

Akokegh, A. F. (2012) “Boko Haram: A 21st Century Challenge in Nigeria”, European Scientific Journal, Vol 8 No 21, pp. 46-55 [open access].

Hard to recommend this piece, which is poorly written, argued and referenced.

Alao, Dayo and Uwom, Oguchi (2012) “Terrorism in Nigeria: An Analysis of North/South Media Coverage of Boko Haram (November 2011 to March 2012)”, International Review of Business and Social Sciences, Vol 1 No 8, pp. 49-62 [open access].

Useful as a source of interpretations from Nigerian media, though the analysis is tenuous at best.

Bagaji, Ali Simon Yusufu (2012) “Boko Haram and the Recurring Bomb Attacks in Nigeria: Attempt to Impose”, Cross-Cultural Communication, Vol 8 No 1, pp. 33-41 [open access].

Spends a lot of time on discussion terrorism in general, and not much on the specifics of Nigeria.

Barrett, Richard (2012) “Terrorism Finance: Preventing the Financing of Terrorism”, Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Vol 44 No 3, pp. 719-36 [subscription required]

Has a much more general focus, but briefly mentions Boko Haram in terms of their financing, suggesting they have had funds raised from AQIM kidnapping, and supplemented this with bank raids, car-jacking and other crime (p. 723).

Cook, David (2011), “Boko Haram: A Prognosis”, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, RiceUniversity, December 16. [open access]

Takes a hardline approach, but has some useful statements and interviews with Boko Haram members. Downplays any link to AQIM, but stresses its relation with al-Shabab in Somalia.

Danjibo, N.D. (2009) “Islamic Fundamentalism and Sectarian Violence: The ‘Maitatsine’ and ‘Boko Haram’ Crises in Northern Nigeria”, in Clément Boutillier (ed.) Proceedings of the 2009 IFRA Nigeria Conference in Zaria. [open access]

Danjibo is based at the Peace and Conflict Studies Programme, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. Compares the 2009 Boko Haram uprising with the 1980 Maitatsine events, in a similar way to Adesoji 2009.

Davis, Carlo (2012) “Boko Haram: Africa’s Homegrown Terror Network”, World Policy Journal [open access].

Short up-to-date analysis with a really helpful diagram of the movement and its links to other groups. Argues that the group’s aims are more to do with self-preservation than political or religious, and makes a compelling case for their mafia-like organization. Suggests that Nigeria’s security services are making things worse, and need to “their extrajudicial killings, and pursue justice rather than revenge”. A longer-term fix can only come through dealing with Nigeria’s corruption.

Elkaim, Zachary (2012) “Boko Haram: The Rise, Success and Continued Efficacy of the Insurgency in Nigeria”, ICT Working Paper Series [open access]

Provides some historical background, especially on the northern and southern protectorates that constituted Nigeria, and on the tensions between the Sokoto caliphate and the Kanem-Bornu Empire before British rule. Good on recent events, and political decisions made within the Nigerian government.

Forest, James J. F. (2011) “Al-Qaeda’s Influence in Sub-Saharan Africa: Myths, Realities and Possibilities”, Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol 5, No 3-4, pp. 63-80 [open access].

Useful on the wider regional context and on AQIM.

Hansen, William W. and Aliyu Musa, Umma (2013) “Fanon, the Wretched and Boko Haram”, Journal of African and Asian Studies, advance online publication, doi: 10.1177/0021909612467277 [subscription required]

Uses Frantz Fanon’s work to try to understand the emergence of Boko Haram. It suggests his concept of ‘the wretched’ remains useful, and that even if the notion of a racial foreigner is irrelevant to this case, Fanon is helpful in making sense of it. Seems a bit too willing to see all violence in the north as due to Boko Haram, with AQIM as influence upon it, rather than affiliates of the second group being responsible—for example, the kidnappings of the British and Italian nationals in Sokoto. Has a useful note on the difficulty of using Nigerian media for accurate reporting on Boko Haram.

Hills, Alice (2012) “Policing a Plurality of Worlds: The Nigerian Police in Metropolitan Kano”, Africa Affairs, Vol 111 No 442, pp. 46-66 [requires subscription].

A useful account of policing in Kano, from a key writer in international politics. Her 2009 book Policing Post-Conflict Cities is well worth a look too.

Ifeka, Caroline (2010) “War on ‘Terror’: Africom, the Kleptocratic State and Under-Class Militancy in West Africa-Nigeria”, Concerned Africa Scholars, No 85 [open access].

Good on the political economy of the country and the wider region, with some useful discussion of US strategic commands in the area. Has some good detail on the 2009 events, and situates these well within other uprisings and violence in the country. Some helpful discussion of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDVF).

International Crisis Group (2010) “Northern Nigeria: Background to Conflict”, Africa Report 168 [open access].

Provides what it says—a useful and thorough background context to events, though a few years out of date.

Johnson, Toni (2011) “Boko Haram”, Council on Foreign Relations, 27 December [open access].

US perspective on the events, especially in terms of what role the US should or shouldn’t play in the region.

Last, Murray (2007) “Muslims and Christians in Nigeria: An Economy of Political Panic”, The Round Table, Vol 96 No 392, pp. 605-616 [requires subscription].

Useful background on the different religions in Nigeria, with a call for city-by- city studies, rather than a straight-forward divide.

Last, Murray (2009) “The Pattern of Dissent: Boko Haram in Nigeria 2009”, Annual Review of Islam in Africa, No 10, pp. 7-11 [requires subscription].

Good on the 2009 events, with a longer view from the author of The Sokoto Caliphate (1967)

Last, Murray (2011) “Northern Nigerian Militancy: Who and What are Boko Haram?African Arguments, July 15 [open access]

Another good account, particularly of Nigerian state responses and constraints.

Loimeier, Roman (2012) “Boko Haram: The Development of a Militant Religious Movement in Nigeria”, Africa Spectrum, Vol 47 No 2-3, pp. 137-55 [open access].

A good general account, with some historical background, particularly on the Yan Izala movement of reform within Islam.

Maiangwa, Benjamin, Okeke Uzodike, Ufo, Whetho, Ayo and Onapajo, Hakeem (2012), “‘Baptism by Fire’: Boko Haram and the Reign of Terror in Nigeria”, Africa Today, Vol 59 No 2, pp. 40-57 [subscription required].

Analyses Nigeria as a failed state, with some interesting detail on Boko Haram that is unavailable elsewhere.

Ogunrotifa, Ayodeji Bayo (2013) “Class Theory of Terrorism: A Study of Boko Haram”, Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol 3 No 1, pp. 27-59 [open access]

A historical materialist account with a long historical frame, with some useful detail on recent events.

Ojo, Emmanuel O. (2010) “Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Extra-Judicial State”, Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa, Vol 12 No 2, pp. 45-62 [open access].

Discusses the security response to Boko Haram, and the large number of extra-judicial killings.

Olaniyi, Rasheed Oyewole (2011) “Hisbah and Sharia Law Enforcement in Metropolitan Kano”, Africa Today, Vol 57 No 4, pp. 70-96 [requires subscription].

Useful on the city of Kano itself, and the partial reintroduction of Sharia law since 1999. Boko Haram wants much more extensive use of Sharia.

Omede, A. J. (2011) “Nigeria: Analysing the Security Challenges of the Goodluck Jonathan Administration”, Canadian Social Science, Vol 7 No 5, pp. 90-102 [open access].

Provides some useful analysis of legal, political and military responses to non-state groups within Nigeria, of which Boko Haram is but one.

Onuoha, Freedom C. (2010) “The Islamist Challenge: Nigeria’s Boko Haram Crisis Explained”, African Security Review, Vol 19 No 2, pp 54-67 [subscription required]

Good on the 2009 events.

Pham, J. Peter (2012) “Boko Haram’s Evolving Threat?Africa Security Brief, No 20 [open access]

Not a bad place to start, with a lot of detail and background on the group.

Pham, J. Peter (2011) “Foreign Influences and Shifting Horizons: The Ongoing Evolution of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” Orbis, Vol 55 No 2, pp. 240-54 [subscription required]

Given the alleged links between Boko Haram and AQIM, this is a helpful background piece on the latter.

Ploch, Lauren (2012) “Nigeria: Current Issues and U.S. Policy”, CRS Report for Congress [open access].

A briefing for the US Congress, with some useful background on the country as a whole in terms of its economy, health, politics, and society.

Popoola, I.S. (2012) “Press and Terrorism in Nigeria: A Discourse on Boko Haram”, Global Media Journal African Edition, Vol 6 No 1, pp. 43-66 [open access].

Looks at targeting of journalists by Boko Haram, which helps to explain some of the media coverage within Nigeria.

Robertson, Racine W. E. (2012) “Pre-Emptive Threat Mitigation: Neutralizing the Boko Haram Threat to U.S. Interests”, Naval War College [open access].

Robertson is a Major in the U.S. Army who advocates a much more engaged strategy for AFRICOM (the US military command based in Stuttgart dealing with the African Continent) and pre-emptive action in Nigeria. She talks up the links between Boko Haram and AQIM, and suggests that AFRICOM’s ‘Theater Strategic Objectives’ can best be met by the use of “Engagement Teams (ETs) to neutralize the foundation of the Boko Haram in Nigeria” (p. 2), and especially future collaboration between Boko Haram and AQIM (pp. 4-5). The ETs being called for are 20-30 men teams, with at least a 50% Nigerian component “including local state citizens, police, military and both Islamic and Christian religious leaders” (p. 5) and a US part “should consist of U.S. military Chaplains, Intelligence, Ordnance, Corps of Engineers, Administrative, Logistics, Civil Affairs and Special Forces personnel, agents from the FBI and CIA, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DoJ) and USDA [Department of Agriculture] employees” (pp. 5-6). Suggests such activities also need to work in relation to Nigeria’s northern neighbours in Chad and Niger.

While it does recognize there are structural issues that lead to support for Boko Haram, and that the legacy of colonialism is important, this proposal is disturbing. It suggests that “Engagement Teams in Nigeria would pre-empt an all-out war that could potentially destabilize the entire region and block access to key U.S. interests. Efforts by the Nigerian government to end the horrors brought about by the Islamic radicals of Boko Haram are simply not broad enough in scope to truly eradicate the roots of this insurgency. A purely military solution will not work. Rife with religious, economic and ethnic strife, corruption and many other traits of a failed state, Nigeria is still an emerging power” (p. 16).

Rogers, Paul (2012) “Nigeria: The Generic Context of the Boko Haram Violence”, Oxford Research Group briefing [open access].

Short briefing which focuses on economic and political marginalization as a cause.

Schwartz, Stephanie (2010) “Is Nigeria a Hotbed of Islamic Extremism?” United States Institute of Peace Brief 27 [open access],

If you can get past the title this is a fairly useful analysis, following a USIP public event on Nigeria. It dates from 2010 and events have moved on beyond what is looked at here. Better for background and history on Nigeria than on more recent politics.

Thomson, Valarie (2012) “Boko Haram and Islamic Fundamentalism in Nigeria”, Global Security Studies, Vol 3 No 3, pp. 46-60 [open access].

Good on the longer historical background, including the tensions between British colonialism and Islam in the north, especially in the Sokoto Caliphate of the 19th century.

Soyinka, Wole (2012) “The Butchers of Nigeria”, Newsweek, January 16th, [open access].

Short, angry piece by the Nobel-prize winning Nigerian writer.

Walker, Andrew (2012) “What is Boko Haram?”, United States Institute of Peace Special Report [open access]

A very good introductory account of the group, from March 2012, with some historical background pre-2009 that is lacking in other accounts. Good on the links—real and imagined—between Boko Haram and other groups in the country and region, and especially on the kidnapping of Europeans Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara in May 2011 and their failed rescue in March 2012, which was almost certainly the work of a different group.

Warner, Zach (2012) “The Sad Rise of Boko Haram”, New African, April 1st, No 516, pp. 38-40 [open access]

Very short account, but gives a lot of historical background. Puts the rise down to alienation of young Muslim men from Nigeria’s politics, and gives the text of a speech by President Goodluck Jonathan in early 2012 calling on the group to state their grievances.

Watts, Michael J. (2009) “Crude Politics: Life and Death on the Nigerian Oil Fields”, Niger Delta: Economies of Violence Working Paper 25 [open access]

Michael Watts has written about Nigeria for several decades. This piece is one of his most recent, and puts the Boko Haram events of 2009 in relation to the violence around the oil fields in the south of the country.


The following pieces are ones that I came across references to, but as yet have been unable to access – largely articles in journals requiring subscription. I’ll update this bibliography as I get hold of them.

Adibe, Jideofor (2012) “Boko Haram: One Sect, Conflicting Narratives”, African Renaissance, Vol 9 No 1, pp. 47-64. [subscription required]

Agbiboa, Daniel Egiegba (2013) “Ethno-Religious conflicts and the Elusive Quest for National Identity in Nigeria”, Journal of Black Studies, Vol 44 No 1, pp. 3-30. [subscription required]

Golwa, Joseph P. and Alozieuwa, Simeon H.O. (2012) “Perspectives on Nigeria’s Security Challenges: The Niger Delta Militancy and Boko Haram Insurgency Compared”, African Renaissance, Vol 9 No 1, pp. 65-90. [subscription required]

Kashi, Ed and Watts, Michael J. (2008) Curse of the Black Gold, New York: Powerhouse.

Mantzikos, Ioannis (2010) “The Absence of the State in Northern Nigeria: The Case of Boko Haram”, African Renaissance, Vol 7 No 1, pp. 57-62 [subscription required].

Musa, Alivu O. (2012) “Socio-Economic Incentives: New Media and the Boko Haram Campaign of Violence in Northern Nigeria”, Journal of African Media Studies, Vol 4 No 1 [subscription required].

Onapajo, Hakeem and Uzodike, Ufo Okeke (2012) “Boko Haram Terrorism in Nigeria: Man, the State and the International System”, African Security Review, Vol 21 No 3 [subscription required].

Onapajo, Hakeem, Uzodike, Ufo Okeke and Whetho, Ayo (2012) “Boko Haram Terrorism in Nigeria: The International Dimension”, South African Journal of International Affairs, Vol 19 No 3, pp. 337-57. [subscription required]

Omitola, Bolaji (2012) “Terrorism and the Nigerian Federation: The Challenges of Disintegration in the Fourth Republic”, African Security Review, Vol 21 No 4, pp. 4-16 [subscription required].

Pham, J. Peter (2011) “The Dangerous ‘Pragmatism’ of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb”, Journal of the Middle East and Africa, Vol 2 No 1, pp. 15-29 [subscription required].

Yusha’u, Muhammad Jameel (2012) “Representation of Boko Haram Discourses in the British Broadsheets”, Journal of Arab & Muslim Media Research, Volume 5, Number 1, 20 November 2012 , pp. 91-108 [subscription required].

Stuart Elden, 14th February 2013

This entry was posted in Frantz Fanon, Politics, Territory, urban/urbanisation. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Boko Haram – An Annotated Bibliography

  1. Pingback: Boko Haram, Shakespeare and Territory – talks at L.S.E. and Aberystwyth | Progressive Geographies

  2. Pingback: 2013 in review – Progressive Geographies stats | Progressive Geographies

  3. Nam says:

    Very nice article. I absolutely appreciate this site. Keep
    it up!

  4. Pingback: Geopolitical Review 2012 – trends, events and risks | Exploring Geopolitics

  5. Pingback: Atacul din 26-30 iulie 2009 | fenomenulterorist

  6. Pingback: Annotated Bibliography Homeland Security | Best GE Home Security

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s