Accepted Paper:

Collective identification, security and statehood: Northeast African examples  


Günther Schlee (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

In Northeast Africa state boundaries and forms of collective identification and entitlement have undergone recent change. This paper examines with which population groups states identify and which groups are discriminated against, the criteria by which this is done, and the security issues emerging from this.

Paper long abstract:

Northeast Africa is a part of the globe in which new states have recently been emerging. In the 1991-1993 period Eritrea, after a long war, has split from Ethiopia, since 1991 Somalia has split into various entities among which the one recognized by the UN is not among the ones which comes closest to having state-like institutions and a range of territorial control on the ground, and South Sudan has split from Sudan in 2011 and now shows serious tendencies of continued fission on a smaller scale. In a similar fashion, Sudan, after shedding its former periphery (South Sudan) now seems to shed the next layer of periphery, the south of the north (South Kordofan, Blue Nile…). New and contested national boundaries are not the only problems related to issues of collective identification and security. With the advance of globalized agrarian capitalism, reallocation of vast areas of land (‚land grabbing') takes place and entire local communities are displaced. If they defend themselves, the state tends to view this resistance as a mere issue of security, accusing marginalized population groups of lack of loyalty, ‚anti-development' attitudes and hostility to the state, ‚rebellion' or even ‚terrorism'. How these groups are compensated or not reflect the identification of the state and the state class with parts of the population more than with other parts. The paper explores the criteria (linguistic, ‚racial', historical) by which such discriminations are made.

Panel P067
Security and citizenship (Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology Network)