Archiv des Autors: gu89go

Precarious Urbanism in Somalia

Jutta Bakonyi

14. November 2023,18:00 CET

The talk introduces Jutta Bakonyi’s and Pete Chonka’s new monograph ‘Precarious Urbanism. Displacement, Belonging and the Reconstruction of Somali Cities’ (Bristol University Press, 2023). Building on narrative interviews and photo-voice the book discusses the nexus of displacement and urbanisation in four Somali cities: Hargeisa in Somaliland, and Bosaso, Baidoa and Mogadishu in Somalia. We follow the reasons and routes of displacement before we analyse the micro-political economy that underpin urban settlements but also drive dynamics of evictions and gentrification. While we show that displaced persons are active agents of city making, we also critically engage with the discursive construction of the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) and show how this label exerts power and structures socio-economic inequalities and the politics of belonging in the four cities.

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Part of 1st page of Amharic tawhid from Dälämäle

Some notes on the linguistic features of Islamic Amharic manuscript literature

Andreas Wetter

24. October 2023, 18:00 CET

Since the 19th century, the Wällo region in Ethiopia has served as a prominent hub for Islamic education. This has led to the establishment of numerous centers dedicated to Islamic scholarship, fostering a flourishing literary tradition. In addition to Arabic literature, there has been a notable emergence of literature in local languages such as Amharic, Argobba, Afar, and Oromo, all of which were written using the Arabic script. The language found in these manuscripts is heavily influenced by Classical Arabic, to the extent that Drewes (1976) describes it as a „intricate mixture of languages.“ This phenomenon raises broader questions about the relationship between language and religion, particularly the notion of distinct religiously defined linguistic varieties, such as „Islamic languages“ (Bausani 1981, challenged by Versteegh 2020) or „Muslim“ varieties (Gori 2015). Hary and Wein (2013) propose the concept of „religiolect“ as a theoretical framework that may shed light on this matter. Additionally, Brenner and Last (1985) discuss the use of „learned dialects“ within social contexts characterized by Islamic scholarship. The presentation will provide an overview of Islamic Amharic manuscript literature, describe its linguistic peculiarities and discuss its sociolinguistic role.

References

  • Bausani, Alessandro. 1981.“Le lingue islamiche: Interazioni e acculturazioni”. In Bausani, Alessandro and Scarcia Amoretti, Biancamaria (eds.). Il mondo islamico tra interazione e acculturazione. Rome: Università degli Studi di Roma. 3-19. 
  • Brenner, Louis and Last, Murray. 1985. “The role of language in West African Islam”. Africa 55(4). 432-446.
  • Gori, Alessandro. 2015. “Languages and literatures of the Muslims of the Horn of Africa: some first general reflections”. In: P. Nicelli (Ed.). L’africa, l’oriente mediterraneo e l’europa. Tradizioni e culture a confronto. Milano: Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana. 119-126.
  • Drewes, Abraham Johannes. 1976. Classical Arabic in Central Ethiopia. Leiden: Brill.
  • Hary, Benjamin and Wein, Martin J. 2013. “Religiolinguistics: on Jewish-, Christian- and Muslim-defined languages”. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 220. 85-108.
  • Versteegh, Kees. 2020. “Can a Language be Islamic?” Eurasian Studies 18. 5-25.

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WAKHVA – Online Lecture Series – Winter 2023-24

Our series of online lectures continues with a 4th round in the winter 2023-24. The series presents a multidisciplinary scholarly engagement with and about the Horn of Africa region to a broader audience.
The series starts on October 24 2023 and will be held via Zoom meetings. Registration takes place via email: vortrag@wakhva.de.
Additional presentations will soon be added.

24. October 2023, 18:00 CET
Andreas Wetter
Some notes on the linguistic features of Islamic Amharic manuscript literature
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Abstract

14. November 2023, 18:00 CET
Jutta Bakonyi
Precarious Urbanism in Somalia
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28. November 2023, 18:00 CET
Markus Höhne
The end of Somaliland as we know it? Current political and conflict dynamics in northern Somalia
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12. Dezember 2023, 18:00 CET
Wolbert Smidt
State and society in local Tigrinya language practice – how culture resists
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Resisting the state in the Horn of Africa. A long-term perspective

Alfredo Gonzáles-Ruibal

31. January 2023, 18:00

The Horn of Africa is an ideal place to study forms of state resistance, because it has some of the oldest and most persistent state polities south of the Sahara, but at the same time state trajectories in the region are non-linear and fraught with obstacles and small-scale, stateless societies have proved to be extremely resilient, both in the periphery and at the heart of the state. Here I will explore three obstacles that have systematically thwarted state-building: 1) mobility among nomadic pastoralists; 2) internal frontiers, and 3) liminal ecologies, such as swamps and escarpments. And for that I will take an archaeological long-term approach.

Alfredo González-Ruibal is a researcher with the Institute of Heritage Studies of the Spanish National Research Council (Incipit-CSIC. Although trained as a prehistoric archaeologist specialising in Atlantic Europe, for the last 15 years he has worked on the archaeology of the contemporary past and African archaeology.

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Book presentation: Developing Heritage – Developing Countries, Ethiopian Nation-Building and the Origins of UNESCO World Heritage, 1960–1980 

Marie Huber

14. February 2023, 18:00

This book looks at the development politics that shaped the UNESCO World Heritage programme, with a case study of Ethiopian World Heritage sites from the 1960s to the 1980s. In a large-scale conservation and tourism planning project, selected sites were set up and promoted as images of the Ethiopian nation. This story serves to illustrate UNESCO’s role in constructing a “useful past” in many African countries engaged in the process of nation-building. UNESCO experts and Ethiopian elites had a shared interest in producing a portfolio of antiquities and national parks to underwrite Ethiopia’s imperial claims to regional hegemony with ancient history. The key findings of this book highlight a continuity in Ethiopian history, despite the political ruptures caused by the 1974 revolution and UNESCO’s transformation from knowledge producer to actual provider of development policies.

Marie Huber is a historian by training, and an expert for cultural and economic politics in developing countries. With her historical research she reflects and disentangles current, complex problems related to globalisation and inequality.

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Self-Governance and Political Order in Somalia

Robert Kluijver

17. January 2023, 18:00

It is often observed that while externally supported state-building efforts in Somalia since the collapse of the Somali state in 1991 have been marked by failure or disappointing results, Somali society has not fared so badly. The experience of Somaliland, where peace was established by clan elders, permitting the development of effective contemporary state structures, was replicated in Puntland and in many other local settlements throughout Somalia, leading to a form of political order based largely on self-governance.
An academic investigation of this political order, often characterized as ‘hybrid’, is impeded by the nearly complete absence in political theory of the concept of self-governance, especially in stateless (or ineffective state) environments. In theories about ‘hybrid political order’ it is often assumed that they combine ‘traditional authorities’ within modern state structures; however these ‘traditional authorities’ are barely examined; some kind of primordial hierarchy is usually assumed.
In my presentation I unravel the ‘hybrid political order’ into its two components: social power based on self-governance, and state power, examining the former at length. This leads me to postulate what I call a ‘Dual Power Theory’. This presentation and the following discussion are based on the Somali context, from ancient Somali history through the experience of the effective Somali state (1960-1990) to Al Shabaab, the Federal Government and Somaliland today. If this conceptualization of self-governance and its rapport with state power provides a convincing key to understand Somali politics today, the Dual Power Theory may also help understand the failures of state-building initiatives elsewhere, as well as issues of political order in the contemporary world more generally.

Robert Kluijver is a PhD candidate who submitted his thesis, “The State in Somalia: Between Self- Governance and International Order”, to the Doctoral School of Sciences Po in Paris in the field of International Relations. It will be defended on 26 January 2023. Kluijver has been lecturing at Sciences Po since 2010, and given guest lectures abroad (Puntland State University, Somali International University, Hargeisa University, ETH Zurich, The Hague Institute for Social Studies). He has worked in ‘post-conflict’ settings in the Central Asia/Middle East/Horn of Africa region as international consultant since 1997, specializing in cultural development, besides working as a curator with contemporary artists and art organizations from the same region.

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An agrarian reading of the Ethiopian civil war: entanglements of agriculture, investment, party politics, and ethnicity (Majang, Mettekel, Wolqayt; 2013-2021)

Mehdi Labzaé

13. December 2022, 18:00

In this presentation, I propose an agrarian understanding of the current Ethiopian civil war. I argue that in the context of discourses of ethnic federalism, agricultural policies implemented by the EPRDF and subsequent PP regimes have taken part in framing contentious politics on the lines of ethnicity. Since the mid 2000s, agricultural policies aiming at extending cultivated surfaces have led to a rush for land in lowland peripheries. In such places, connection with the local branch of the EPRDF became a prerequisite for investors to access land. Local élites reacted diversely, by both encouraging and complaining about land transactions and work migration they entailed. As ethnicity provided the basis for party structuration and political representation, local land tensions espoused the same ethnic lines – although past agricultural practices were often more inclusive and allowed more fluidity, solidarity, and transactions between groups. Agricultural workers from other regions tried to access land, sometimes concluding transactions with groups which within the policies of ethnic federalism had been recognized as “locals”. Several policy items, including land registration programs implemented between 2014 and 2018, triggered local political violence. As the political crisis was deepening at the federal level, political parties and state institutions provided channels for local land conflicts to scale up. Meanwhile, agricultural investors played a prominent role in the creation of armed groups that are now active on the war’s frontlines.

This presentation brings together elements from ethnographic fieldwork carried out in several agricultural intensive areas, namely the Mettekel zone of Benishangul-Gumuz (from 2013 to 2019), Gambella’s coffee producing Majang zone (2014-2016), and Nothern Gonder and Wolqayt (2016-2021). 

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(vortrag@wakhva.de)

Mehdi Labzaé is a sociologist and political scientist, specialist in the sociology of the state at the CEDEJ in Cairo.

Development finance and the right to participate in environmental decision making in an authoritarian context: lessons from Gibe III hydro dam project in Ethiopia

Abduletif Kedir Idris

23. November 2022, 18:00

Ethiopia is lauded for achieving the most carbon free GDP growth in last two decades. The economy has expanded by a factor of five, while on a per capita basis, CO2 emissions from energy were the fourth-lowest in the world. Granted, the emission from these pumps may be minuscule in comparison but the absence of democratic accountability in how these green credentials have been achieved should be a cause for concern. With much of the funding for the infrastructure projects, such as the Gibe III dam, coming from non-domestic sources, data indicate that the Ethiopia government is more accountable to these funding sources than to the people more directly affected by such projects. This PhD project presentation aims to discuss how this inverted accountability impact rights to participate in environmental governance in Ethiopia.

Abduletif Kedir Idris is a PhD Candidate at the Max Plank Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale.

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3rd round of our Online Lecture Series „New Perspectives on the Horn of Africa“

Our series of online lectures continues with a 3rd round in the winter 2022-23. The series presents a multidisciplinary scholarly engagement with and about the Horn of Africa region to a broader audience.
The series starts on November 23 and will be held via Zoom meetings. Registration takes place via email: vortrag@wakhva.de.

23. November 2022, 18:00
Abduletif Kedir Idris
Development finance and the right to participate in environmental decision making in an authoritarian context: lessons from Gibe III hydro dam project in Ethiopia.
Email registration
Abstract

13. December 2022, 18:00
Mehdi Labzaé
An agrarian reading of the Ethiopian civil war: entanglements of agriculture, investment, party politics, and ethnicity (Majang, Mettekel, Wolqayt; 2013-2021) 
Email registration
Abstract

17. January 2023, 18:00
Robert Kluijver
Self-Governance and Political Order in Somalia
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Abstract

31. January 2023, 18:00
Alfredo Gonzáles-Ruibal
Resisting the state in the Horn of Africa. A long-term perspective
Email registration
Abstract

14. February 2023, 18:00
Marie Huber
Book presentation:
„Developing Heritage–Developing Countries: Ethiopian Nation-Building and the Origins of UNESCO World Heritage, 1960–1980“

Email registration
Abstract