Centres in the periphery: negotiating territoriality and identification in Harar and Jijiga from 1942
Matshanda, Namhla Thando
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Shifts in centre-periphery relations in Ethiopia and the complex relationships between the Ethiopian state and neighbouring countries motivate this thesis to contribute a nuanced historical reading of the relationship between Ethiopia's eastern periphery and the central state and the wider regional implications of this relationship. It does so by examining the interplay between the state projects of controlling territory and asserting authority and the experiences and responses of local populations to these attempts in the Harar and Jijiga localities. Using an interpretive approach and a qualitative methodology that is underlined by historical methods, the thesis argues that the narrative on the integration of the Harar and Jijiga peripheries into the state is shaped by a history of negotiation. However, this negotiation is ongoing and is far from completion because there is no consensus on the nature of, and meanings associated with territoriality and identification when conceptualising statehood in Ethiopia. The condition of partial integration has afforded local actors in the peripheries the liberty to occasionally engage in discourses on territoriality and identification with neighbouring countries regardless of attempts by the Ethiopian state to enforce its ideas of these aspects of statehood. This investigation highlights the presence of a British Military Administration from 1942 and the changes this made to the territorial boundary between eastern Ethiopia and the British Somaliland Protectorate, and the establishment of the Republic of Somalia in 1960. Previous studies have approached the centre-periphery relationship from the perspective of the Ethiopian state - highlighting conflict and resistance. This thesis contests these perspectives because of their inability to reveal a history of peripheral agency. Centre-biased and ahistorical approaches often overlook the shadings that exist in centre-periphery relations. The thesis also challenges the myth of a homogenous eastern periphery by demonstrating that the marginality of Harar and Jijiga is mitigated by their history of being centres in the periphery. The findings of this thesis challenge the narratives of conflict and resistance that dominate interpretations of the relationship between the eastern periphery and the Ethiopian state. The empirical evidence presented in this thesis confirms and develops current scholarly debates on the existence of complex empirical manifestations of statehood in Africa, specifically in the Horn of Africa. Thus the thesis contributes to the ongoing turn in the study of statehood, which promotes the investigation of the state from the margins for a more balanced view of political reality. Finally, rather than attempting to resolve questions on the nature of statehood in Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa or in sub-Saharan Africa, this thesis draws attention to the alternative ways of interpreting ideas of statehood as they manifest themselves in diverse historical, social and political contexts.