School of Social and Political Science

Dr Akin Iwilade

Job Title

Lecturer in African Studies

Akin Iwilade

Room number


Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a George Square

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Research interests

Research interests

Natural resource politics and governance, Social anthropology of youth, Nigerian politics and society, Regional security in West Africa

If you are interested in being supervised by Akin Iwilade, please see the links below (open in new windows) for more information:


BSc MSc (Ife), MSc DPhil (Oxon)

Research interests and bio

My research deploys critical theoretical lenses to explore the sociality of youth in multiple fields. My current interests are mainly in four areas. The first explores how infrastructures of the city and of cityness are shaping and being shaped by the corporeal proximities generated by violent crowds. I aim to understand how the neoliberal city creates the mob, how it disciplines it and what social imaginaries are implicated in these processes. The second main interest of mine is around the imaginaries, practices and archaeologies of death and dying in violent youth groups. The goal is to understand where death sits in the mind of the gangster and how this shapes gang relations with the discipline of the state. Third, I am interested in the ways in which youth are both producers and inhabitants of the temporalities associated with oil extraction in Africa. Bringing together the contradictory senses of (im)permamanence underpinning both youthness and oil, I explore the shifts in imagination they generate and how they are expressed in political action. Finally, I am doing some research around the deployment of blackness and middle class youth identity formation in Africa and its diasporas- focussing in particular on the instrumentalisation of blackness, both to exclude and to expand, and what it all means for how young people now think of home and personhood. 

Before coming to Edinburgh, I taught International Relations at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and African Politics at the University of Leeds, UK. My earlier research focussed primarily on the politics of violent youth in Africa, especially in extractive contexts like the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. I have also researched the role of social movements in the forming and sustenance of political authority at the regional level in West Africa. Output from these research areas have appeared in the Journal of Modern African Studies, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Africa Spectrum, Journal of Youth Studies and Extractive Industries and Society among othersMy article about youth infrastructures of violence in Nigeria's Niger Delta, published in the Journal of Modern African Studies, was awarded the 'best article published on Africa' prize for 2014 by the African Politics and Conference Group of the African Studies Association at its 54th Annual meeting in San Francisco in December 2015. I have received recognition and funding support for various aspects of my research from a wide range of organisations including grants from the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Institute of International Education, scholarship funding from the University of Oxford, and awards from Obafemi Awolowo University, Oxford University and Columbia University's Earth Institute. My research activities have also supported short term consultancies with various organisations including Think Tank Initiative/IDRC Canada, Tana Forum for Security in Africa and Friedrich Erbert Stiftung. 

Teaching (Away on Research Leave until August 2023)

I convene two graduate courses: 'Conflict and Peace in Africa', and the methodology course 'Research in Africa'. I am also the Convener of the Language Based Area Studies and International Development Pathway for the Scottish Graduate School of Social Sciences. 

I am happy to hear from potential PhD Students who have a theoretical approach to social inquiry in my areas of interest. 

Journal Editorial Roles

Editor, Canadian Journal of African Studies (Revue Canadienne des études Africaines), (2022-)

Book Reviews Editor, African Affairs (2020-)

Member, Editorial Board, Critical African Studies (2020-) 

Member, Editorial Advisory Board, Canadian Journal of African Studies (Revue Canadienne des études Africaines) (2020-22)

Member, Editorial Working Group, Review of African Political Economy (2016-2022)

Book Reviews Editor, Leeds African Studies Bulletin (2018-19)

Selected publications

Iwilade A.  2020. Everyday agency and centered marginality: being ‘youth’ inthe oil rich Niger Delta of Nigeria, Ateliers D’antropologie 47(1):1-14. 

Iwilade A. 2019. “Temporalities of ‘doing’: the over-youth and their navigations of post-violence contexts in Africa”, in: Cuervo H. & Miranda A, Youth in the Global South: Transitions, Diversity & Inequality, Springer Series Perspectives on Children and Youth 

Iwilade A. (2018). “From the newspaper to Facebook: New media, intermediality, and political participation in Africa” in Adejumobi S., Voice andPower in Africa’s Democracy: Institutions, Participation and Accountability,(Routledge Contemporary African Politics Series), New York: Routledge.

Iwilade A and Fadayomi D (2017). “Freedom and Control: Islam and Christianity at the Federal Polytechnic” in Nolte I, Ogen K and Jones R. Beyond Religious Tolerance: Muslim, Christian and Traditionalist Encounters in an African Town, Suffolk: James Currey, pp 173-88.

Iwilade A. (2017) Slipping through the net: everyday agency of youth and the politicsof Amnesty in Nigeria’s Niger Delta (2009-2015)”, Journal of Contemporary African Studies (Institute of Social and Economic Research, Routledge Taylor and Francis Publishers), Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 266-83.

Iwilade A. (2016) “Oil Wealth and Insurgency in the Niger Delta” [Book Review], Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol.54, Issue 3, pp. 547-48.

Iwilade A. (2015) “Oil, youth and networks of the ‘unconnected’ in Nigeria’s Oil Delta”, Society and Natural Resources, Vol. 28, No. 11, pp. 1203-15.

Iwilade A. (2015) “New spaces, new interactions? Young People’s Online Social Networks and Gender Relations in Africa”, Gender, Technology and Development,Vol.19, No. 1, pp.70-90.

Iwilade A. (2014) “Networks of violence and becoming: youth and the politics of patronage in Nigeria’s oil rich Delta”, Journal of Modern African Studies, Issue 52, No. 4, pp.571-95. (winner of the APCG/APSA award for the best article published on Africa in 2014)

Iwilade A. (2014) “Politics of the (Sub)regional: ECOWAS and the AU in Cote d’Ivoire’s electoral crisis”in Samuel Ewusi and Jean Bosco Butera (eds), BeyondStatebuilding: Confronting Africa’s Governance and Socioeconomic Challenges in the 21st Century, Addis Ababa: University of Peace Africa Program, pp. 49-80

Iwilade A., (2014) “Has the rise of China made democratisation less likely in Africa?”,Conflict Trends (Published by ACCORD, South Africa) Issue 1, pp. 3-10.

Iwilade A., (2013) “Crisis as Opportunity: Youth, Social Media and the Renegotiation of Power in Africa”, Journal of Youth Studies, Vol. 16, No.8, pp. 1054-68.

Iwilade A. and Okwechime I. (2013), “Politics of Social Movements in MinorityContexts: Oil, Elections, Resistance and Representation in the Niger Delta Region ofNigeria” in Marisa Fois and Allesandro Pes (eds.), Politics and Minorities in Africa, Nova Collectanea Africana, Roma: Centro di Studi Africani in Sardegna (CSAS), University of Cagilari, pp. 197-217.

Okwechime I. and Iwilade A. (2013), “Gender, Environment and Human RightsViolations in Nigeria’s Niger Delta Region”, in Ako-nai R.I. (ed.), Gender and Power Relations in Nigeria, Maryland: Lexington Books (Rowman and Littlefield), pp. 301- 24.

Okwechime I. and Iwilade A. (2013), “Women, Grassroots Movements and Democratization in Nigeria”, in Ako-nai R.I. (ed.), Gender and Power Relations in Nigeria, Maryland: Lexington Books (Rowman and Littlefield), pp. 267-86.

Iwilade A. and Agbo J. (2012), “ECOWAS and the Regulation of Regional Peace and Security in West Africa”, Democracy and Security, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 358-73.

Iwilade A. (2012), “Green or Red? Reframing the Environmental Discourse in Nigeria”, Africa Spectrum, Vol. 47, No. 2- 3, pp. 157-66.

Ukeje C. and Iwilade A. (2012), “A Farewell to Innocence? African Youth andViolence in the Twenty First Century, International Journal of Conflict and Violence,Vol. 6, No. 2. pp. 339-51.


Staff Hours and Guidance

On Research Leave until August 2023