Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Africa: Making Citizens in Africa: Ethnicity, Gender, and National Identity in Ethiopia/Food and Agriculture in Ethiopia: Progress and Policy Challenges

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Africa: Making Citizens in Africa: Ethnicity, Gender, and National Identity in Ethiopia/Food and Agriculture in Ethiopia: Progress and Policy Challenges

Article excerpt

Making Citizens in Africa: Ethnicity, Gender, and National Identity in Ethiopia by Lahra Smith. Cambridge University Press, 2013, 276 pp. $85.00 (paper, $29.99).

Food and Agriculture in Ethiopia: Progress and Policy Challenges edited by Paul Corosh and Shahidur Rashid. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013, 376 pp. $59.95.

Two very different books, both fascinating, attest to the socioeconomic and political progress Ethiopia has made during the last two decades-and to the enormous challenges still facing this country, whose more than 90 million people belong to 75 distinct ethnolinguistic groups and whose recent history includes civil war and several massive famines.

Smith examines the substantial expansion of what she calls "meaningful citizenship" in the country since the 1970s, by which she means the actual exercise of rights inscribed in formal institutions but too often ignored. The formal promulgation of those rights has begun to empower traditionally subordinate segments of society, such as women and certain ethnic groups. Smith is cautiously optimistic, recognizing that progress slowed down during the contentious final years of Meles Zenawi's tenure as the country's strongman, which ended with his death in 2012. …

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