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Post-imperial statecraft: high modernism and the politics of land dispossession in Ethiopia’s pastoral frontier


Regassa, Asebe; Korf, Benedikt (2018). Post-imperial statecraft: high modernism and the politics of land dispossession in Ethiopia’s pastoral frontier. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 12(4):613-631.

Abstract

This paper argues that the current EPRDF/TPLF government emulates the imperial ambition of high-modernist development in Ethiopia’s “last” frontier – the pastoral lowlands. We show that two pillars of imperial state expansion continue to haunt Ethiopia’s post-imperial statecraft in the pastoral lowlands: the frontier rush and a high-modernist ambition. The frontier rush is characterized by emptying land for private and state appropriation. The model of high modernism underpins political projects of legitimating state rule, violent land appropriation and suppression of dissent in the pastoral frontier. Our empirical material combines a review of the literature on Ethiopia’s history of high-modernist ambitions with a detailed case study of contemporary land dispossessions in two sites of Lower Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia. Our case study shows how government officials and company managers mobilize frontier imaginations and high-modernist terminology to justify large-scale relocations of pastoral communities.

Abstract

This paper argues that the current EPRDF/TPLF government emulates the imperial ambition of high-modernist development in Ethiopia’s “last” frontier – the pastoral lowlands. We show that two pillars of imperial state expansion continue to haunt Ethiopia’s post-imperial statecraft in the pastoral lowlands: the frontier rush and a high-modernist ambition. The frontier rush is characterized by emptying land for private and state appropriation. The model of high modernism underpins political projects of legitimating state rule, violent land appropriation and suppression of dissent in the pastoral frontier. Our empirical material combines a review of the literature on Ethiopia’s history of high-modernist ambitions with a detailed case study of contemporary land dispossessions in two sites of Lower Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia. Our case study shows how government officials and company managers mobilize frontier imaginations and high-modernist terminology to justify large-scale relocations of pastoral communities.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Political Science and International Relations, Cultural Studies, Sociology and Political Science, History, Anthropology
Language:English
Date:2 October 2018
Deposited On:26 Oct 2018 09:36
Last Modified:27 Oct 2018 07:33
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1753-1055
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2018.1517854

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