Routing ethnic violence in a divided city: walking in the footsteps of armed mobs in Jos, Nigeria
Scholars of ethnic riots disagree on which are more susceptible to collective violence between ethnically segregated and diverse socio-spatial settings. Studies of riot-prone cities have produced contradictory conclusions. This article proposes that the ambivalence stems in part from disregarding the mobile nature of armed mobs and conflating their origins with their locations of violence. Drawing upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork involving mobile interviews, in-depth discussions and visual documentation, the article maps the footsteps of armed mobs from their origins to sites of confrontation during the 2008 Christian-Muslim riots in Jos, Nigeria. Findings suggest both segregated and mixed settlements contributed to violence. While armed mobs were likelier to originate from segregated neighbourhoods, mixed settlements, especially those sandwiched between segregated ones, served as frontiers for fighting; armed mobs preferred narrow alleys inaccessible to security forces. These findings' implications can advance the understanding and management of ethnic riots in urban areas.