The Spatial Dimension of Muslim-Christian Conflict in the Middle Belt of Nigeria


  • Rainer Rothfuss
  • Yakubu Joseph


Nigeria, inter-religious conflicts, religious freedom, Muslim-Christian violence, mob and partisan terror, socio-spatial segregation, spatial vulnerability


This paper intends to show the added value that the perspective of Political Geography and Geographic Conflict Research can contribute to the better understanding of inter- religious conflicts. Many of the facets of the root causes, power relations, dynamics, and progression of this type of multi-layered conflicts can be better understood when taking into account the specific spatial dimension.

In this paper, we attempt to explore the impact of socio-spatial segregation and partitioning within settlement areas on the development of the inter-religious conflict in Jos and the adjoining areas of the central Nigerian State of Plateau. Furthermore, the paper contends that the urban violence in some flashpoints in Jos and the recurrent guerrilla-style attacks on spatially isolated communities had tested the limits of the strategies of spatial segregation and partitioning, adopted by the Muslim and Christian communities, and the fortification of the city through military presence.

By tracking the incidence of such attacks over a period of one year and interrogating factors that regrettably contributed to their success, we came to grips with how perpetrators have repeatedly exploited the different spatial scales of vulnerability of the city of Jos and its rural environs, as well as the failure of government to put in place an appropriate security system that adapts to the socio-spatial challenges and dynamics of the conflict.

Author Biographies

Rainer Rothfuss

Rainer Rothfuss is Professor for Human Geography at the Institute of Geography of Tübingen University ( He leads a research team dealing with the issue of inter-religious conflicts from the perspective of Political Geography.

Yakubu Joseph

Yakubu Joseph is a Research Assistant at Tübingen University. He holds a BSc in Sociology and Anthropology, an MSc in Sociology and an MA in International Peace Studies. In his PhD dissertation Mr. Joseph focuses on the subject of mitigating identity-based conflicts.



2023-01-19 — Updated on 2023-01-19