Political cultures in Ethiopia: intersections of the national and the local

The project addresses trajectories of political change in Ethiopia and the wider Horn on both national and local levels. Constituent factors of politics, governance and social/political movements will be explored to explain the relatively high levels of conflict and resistance in the Horn countries. The conflicts have both local and national aspects, and the way they interlock is an important object of study. Conflicts are not always state-generated but have local roots in economic, social and sometimes religious differences, but are brought out in new context of politics. Conflict-generating and conflict-mitigating processes or institutions, such as customary law frameworks, will be studied. Identity questions still loom large in disputes and conflicts in Ethiopia and other Horn countries, and emerge in a multi-ethnic setting where ethnicity is an officially defined civic identity. Apart from the fact that these conflicts may be based in resource scarcity (or in some cases relative abundance compared to adjacent areas or groups), they also have a 'feedback' impact on systems of natural resource management and food production. Livelihoods are influenced, resources are restricted or removed and people's physical conditions are endangered. The project explores the social, economic and political causes of the strains on food production and productive capacity and their impact on people's livelihoods, 'identity' struggles and social and community relations.

2007 to 2011

Senior researchers



conflict; ethnic identity; government; legal systems; local politics; political change

Funding and cooperation




Centre Français d’Études Éthiopiennes, Ethiopia;
Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Ethiopia