The politics of space in Borana Oromo, Ethiopia: demographics, elections, identity and customary institutions

Marco Bassi, Marco Bassi

Risultato della ricerca: Articlepeer review

18 Citazioni (Scopus)


This article addresses the protracted state of political violence in and around the Borana and Guji zones of Oromia region after the introduction of ethnic federalism in Ethiopia. To account for the persistence of the conflict, we must elaborate on the connections between ethnic identity, natural resource and customary institutions by introducing the notion of oprimary identityo. Since the turn of the millennium there is in Ethiopia a theoretically grounded attempt to co-opt customary institutions and elders into modern governance, particularly in the pastoral sector. Field-research focused on the interplay of customary and modern politics during two electoral events, the 2004 referendum organised to solve the border issue between the Somali Regional State and Oromia, and the 2005 national elections. Analysis of local political dynamics indicates that the strategy of the federal government was shaped by the need to control the insurgency of the Oromo Liberation Front. Local political motivations also played a role. The combination of these two factors resulted in systematic abuse of human rights and the manipulation of development and refugees policies, involving an informal odemographic politics of spaceo that displaced the Borana Oromo from a large area of their customary territory, relegating them into a state of permanent food dependency. It is argued that the restoration and strengthening of customary governance holds the best prospect for improving this situation.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)221-246
Numero di pagine26
RivistaJournal of Eastern African Studies
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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  • ???subjectarea.asjc.3300.3314???
  • ???subjectarea.asjc.1200.1202???
  • ???subjectarea.asjc.3300.3312???
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