Amanda Poole of the Department of Anthropology co-published an article with Jennifer Riggan of Arcadia University in the journal Modern Africa: Politics, History, and Society, titled “Oscillating Imaginaries: War, Peace, and the Precarious Relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia.” 

The article appeared in a special issue of the journal titled “Eritrea’s Uneasy Futures,” which features international scholarship focused on the historical roots and broader context of Eritrea’s current political and economic conditions. The special issue is edited by David O’Kane, Sabine Mohammed, and Magnus Treiber.  

This article considers the precarious status of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia following the peace declaration and subsequent war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. While the 2018 peace declaration between Ethiopia and Eritrea was widely celebrated, Eritrean refugees expressed concern that peace would be destabilizing, and that their status in Ethiopia would change. Their concerns were shaped by a long history of oscillating imaginaries of how Eritrea “fits” with Ethiopia.

Drawing from historical analysis and ethnographic fieldwork leading up to the peace agreement, we explore how these oscillating imaginaries create an uncomfortable and unstable situation for Eritreans in Ethiopia, rendering refugees vulnerable to unpredictable violence. Better understanding the way identity categories have been subject to constant slippage and have been instrumentalised by political elites could help to forge a more peaceful future among Ethiopia’s nationalities and between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Department of Anthropology