Pastoral Conflicts and State-building in the Ethiopian Lowlands

Tobias Hagmann, Alemmaya Mulugeta

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This paper draws attention to the central role played by the Ethiopian state
in reconfiguring contemporary (agro-)pastoral conflicts in its semi-arid
lowlands. Contrary to primordialist and environmental conflict theories of
pastoralist violence, we shed light on the changing political rationality of
inter-group conflicts by retracing the multiple impacts of state-building on
pastoral land tenure and resource governance, peacemaking and custommary
authorities, and competition over state resources. Based on an extensive
comparative review of recent case studies, post-1991 administrative
decentralisation is identified as a major driving force in struggles for resources
between transhumant herders in Ethiopia’s peripheral regions.
Our analysis emphasises the politicisation of kinship relations and group
identities and the transformation of conflict motives under the influence of
the gradual incorporation of (agro-)pastoral groups into the Ethiopian nation-
state. Ethnic federalism incites pastoralists to engage in parochial
types of claim-making, to occupy territory on a more permanent basis and
to become involved in ‘politics of difference’ with neighbouring groups.
TidsskriftAfrika Spectrum
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)19-37
StatusUdgivet - 2008
Udgivet eksterntJa

Citer dette