Projekte SCD

Ethnic difference and political stability in urban Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Sabine Mohamed


Her doctoral research endeavour Ethnic difference and political stability in urban Addis Ababa, Ethiopia [working title] examines the inscriptions and negotiations of difference within a state project to constitute a pluralist vision of the nation in the aftermath of a violent political transition. Ethiopia’s ruling party, the EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) has sought to stabilize a political transition seeking to overcome a legacy of large-scale violent conflict and political repression experienced under the former Derg regime (the Red Terror). Representing a fundamental break, not only with the former Communist state, but also the monarchy which preceded it, the EPRDF has unusually identified ethnic diversity as the key to Ethiopia’s political unity and stability – the political ideology underpinning its new tribal federal structure, which has attempted to placate secessionist movements.

This project asks how national unity and collective identity may be forged under a political system that recognizes diverse ethnically based sovereignties, and what role ethnic difference may play in efforts to consolidate the political transition. This ethnographic dissertation is interested in the quotidian processes and performativity of difference and how these are translated into a pluralist nation-state project through the figure of the other, the Eritrean familiar stranger, and through sites of infrastructural renewal.