Ethnicity & Conflict in the Horn of Africa

Ethnicity & Conflict in the Horn of Africa

Ethnicity & Conflict in the Horn of Africa

Ethnicity & Conflict in the Horn of Africa

Synopsis

Conflicts in the Horn have all too often dominated press coverage of Africa. This book exposes the subtle and ambiguous role ethnicity can play in social conflict - a role that is nowhere as simple and direct as commonly assumed. Social conflict is routinely attributed to ethnic differentiation because dividing lines between rival groups often follow ethnic contours; and cultural symbolism has proved a potent ideological weapon. The purpose of this book is to examine the nature of the bond linking ethnicity to conflict in a variety of circumstances. The diverse groups are involved in confrontations at different levels and of varying intensity, ranging from elemental struggles for physical survival of groups at the margin of society, to contests for state power and control of resources at the centre. The ten studies from Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya are based on primary research by anthropologists and historians who have long experience of the region. The insights gained from this comparativework help to refine common assumptions about conflict among ethnic groups.

Excerpt

The studies included in this volume were initially presented to the Symposium on 'Ethnic Conflict in Northeast Africa,' sponsored by the Taniguchi Foundation and organized by the National Museum of Ethnology at Osaka, 27 March-13 April 1991. This was the fourteenth symposium sponsored by the Taniguchi Foundation and the Senri Foundation. The first of these, held in 1977, also at Osaka, had a related ethnology theme -- 'Warfare Among East African Herders' -- and three of its participants -- Fukui, Turton, Baxter -- also took part in the fourteenth symposium. There is, therefore, thematic and participant continuity between the two occasions, and the publication edited by Fukui and Turton, Warfare among East African Herders (1979), serves as a point of reference for this volume.

All the participants in the 1977 symposium were anthropologists with a special interest in mobile pastoralism in East Africa. This interest was also represented in the 1991 meeting with several papers. In addition, the latter occasion included historians and political scientists, as well as anthropologists with other interests. What brought them together was concern for the people of the Horn of Africa, where entire communities have been shattered by unending violent conflict, the cause of which is commonly said to be ethnic divisions. A desire to shed light on the ambiguous connection between ethnicity and conflict was shared by those who participated in the symposium, and ensured consistency among their contributions.

The hosting of the symposium in Osaka and the participation of four Japanese scholars testify to the growing academic interest in that country concerning Africa. Generous support from the . . .

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