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Urban development and the making of frontiers in/from Addis Ababa/Finfinne, Ethiopia


Regassa, Asebe; Soboka, Teshome Emana (2023). Urban development and the making of frontiers in/from Addis Ababa/Finfinne, Ethiopia. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 58(5):708-724.

Abstract

Frontier making in Ethiopia has historical roots from the formation of the modern Ethiopian state in the late-19th century through wars of conquest. The conquest, which was inspired by political and economic motivations of the highland Christian kingdom, used the notion of a “civilizing mission”—civilizing the “backward” and “underdeveloped” people, and “underutilized” spaces—through imposition of an imperial state system and Orthodox Christianity. The foundation and horizontal expansion of Addis Ababa or Finfinne by displacing Indigenous inhabitants was part of the state building project under successive regimes. Over the last century and a half, the city has continued its unchecked expansion in a process involving multilayered actors whose interests overlapped in terms of grabbing the land they considered “underutilized.” More specifically, the last three decades evince commoditization of farmlands, grazing areas, and cultural and sacred spaces through land lease, which eventually dissolve existing customary systems, values, and practices. This paper critically analyzes the dynamics of frontier making in or from Addis Ababa or Finfinne, the political economy behind such unchecked frontier expansion and how it activated the power of resistance in 2014. The paper concludes that frontier making in or from Addis Ababa through dispossession of Oromo farmers has been part of the broader political establishment in Ethiopia and should be viewed within the same lens.

Abstract

Frontier making in Ethiopia has historical roots from the formation of the modern Ethiopian state in the late-19th century through wars of conquest. The conquest, which was inspired by political and economic motivations of the highland Christian kingdom, used the notion of a “civilizing mission”—civilizing the “backward” and “underdeveloped” people, and “underutilized” spaces—through imposition of an imperial state system and Orthodox Christianity. The foundation and horizontal expansion of Addis Ababa or Finfinne by displacing Indigenous inhabitants was part of the state building project under successive regimes. Over the last century and a half, the city has continued its unchecked expansion in a process involving multilayered actors whose interests overlapped in terms of grabbing the land they considered “underutilized.” More specifically, the last three decades evince commoditization of farmlands, grazing areas, and cultural and sacred spaces through land lease, which eventually dissolve existing customary systems, values, and practices. This paper critically analyzes the dynamics of frontier making in or from Addis Ababa or Finfinne, the political economy behind such unchecked frontier expansion and how it activated the power of resistance in 2014. The paper concludes that frontier making in or from Addis Ababa through dispossession of Oromo farmers has been part of the broader political establishment in Ethiopia and should be viewed within the same lens.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Geography, Planning and Development
Social Sciences & Humanities > Development
Uncontrolled Keywords:Development, Geography, Planning and Development
Language:English
Date:1 August 2023
Deposited On:28 Feb 2023 08:36
Last Modified:29 Apr 2024 01:36
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0021-9096
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/00219096211069647
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)