Traditionally, the historiography of Lagos has emphasized how the physical space between the centers of each population was symbolic of their social distance. However, in mapping moments of cooperation and friction between these populations as they played out social and spatially, this talk argues that debates in early colonial Lagos over blackness and belonging, indigeneity and “civilization” became legible in the process of reconstructing the city. An emphasis on place also renders the ara Eko visible, as narratives of return, Christianization and colonization have displaced them from the histories of this period. Though mostly excluded from the written sources, they left their mark on the city’s urban fabric. What was at stake for them in clinging to their land and identity is revealed from the attempts to displace them, as the city was being reimagined and rebuilt.

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