How Things Will Go: Genre, Infrastructure, and Hope in Welcome to Lagos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines how two structuring forms, infrastructure and genre, facilitate and distribute affects of hopeful futurity in Chibundu Onuzo's 2017 novel Welcome to Lagos. I argue that genre acts as the infrastructure of infrastructure, an underlying connective logic that shapes how infrastructures are encountered and perceived. In turn, infrastructures materialize generic expectations about the world. Welcome to Lagos' comic form, which aestheticizes contingency and fortune, shapes the way characters relate to informal infrastructures like underbridges and abandoned buildings. Such discarded spaces reinforce a view of the city as a space rife with opportunity. In contrast to more pessimistic views of the postcolonial city, Welcome to Lagos' comedy and infrastructure foreground how access to resources and materials are unpredictably distributed, in turn making feelings of hopeful or open futurity more available to the urban poor. Ultimately, I argue that affects like hope index the lived force of genre and infrastructure as structuring forms, and that genre and infrastructure are useful for theorizing postcolonial affect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-36
Number of pages26
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • comedy
  • genre
  • hope
  • infrastructure
  • urbanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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