The Politics of Ethnicity in Ethiopia

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Download the podcast of Lovise Aalen’s talk on ‘The Politics of Ethnicity in Ethiopia: Actors, Power and Mobilisation under Ethnic Federalism’ to the African Studies Seminar at Oxford University below.

Federalism is often cited as the most effective way to manage ethnic tensions because it promises to give communities a degree of self-government and it means that groups that lose out in the national battle for power may be able to win locally.  It therefore reduces the stakes of political competition and hence the prospects for electoral violence.  But federal structures play out very differently according to the context in which they are inserted.  For example, in Nigeria, the country’s extreme diversity has meant that there is no way to divide up the country such that each community can be in charge of its own affairs.  As a result, every round of state creation has created a fresh wave of pressure for further devolution from minority groups that fear domination by larger groups in the new dispensation.

In this talk, Lovise Aalen, an expert on the Horn of Africa at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway, explains how the ethnicity is managed in Ethiopia and what happens when federalism is combined with a dominant-party state.  Her findings are of great relevance to those thinking about how to manage electoral violence and how best to manage political competition in diverse and polarized societies.

To hear the talk, click here

To see the full range of events held at Oxford University, click here

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