Abstract

This article theorizes the modernization dynamics of the Igbo world, using the Habermasian framework. Drawing on Habermas, it argues that Igbo modernity or, more precisely, the transformations associated with Igbo modernization, may be understood in terms of the “uncoupling” of systems from the Igbo lifeworld. Relatedly, it further argues that the crises and pathologies that attend modernity in Igboland owe largely to the “colonization” of the Igbo lifeworld by systems of modernity consequent upon this uncoupling. The article pays special attention to the realm of the lifeworld because it is a neglected sphere in the scholarship on the Igbo (African) experience of modernity. Besides, focusing on the Igbo lifeworld would provide the much-needed contextualized reading—one steeped in Africa—of Habermas’s important but rather rarefied theory of modernity. The significance of the article perhaps lies in this two-pronged engagement—the focus on lifeworld and the attempt to contextualize Habermas.

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