Ethnic decentralization and negotiating statehood in urban Ethiopia : a case study of Adama and Hawassa cities

Bekele, Demissie Ferdissa. Ethnic decentralization and negotiating statehood in urban Ethiopia : a case study of Adama and Hawassa cities. 2014, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_13467

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Since 1991, an ethnic-based federal form of decentralization has been in place in Ethiopia mainly as means for ethno-cultural diversity accommodation and decentralization of power, and thereby foster peace and development in the country. This study examines the implementation and effects of this new political order in multiethnic cities of the country, particularly in Adama and Hawassa cities. The study was mainly a qualitative approach, and used both primary and secondary data. Accordingly, the study reveals out that while Ethiopia’s ethnic federal decentralization processes might have shown some progress at national level in terms of ethno-cultural diversity accommodation, its relevance and feasibility in urban centers appears to be problematic. In the context of the two case study cities, evidently the country’s ethnic federal order fails to provide relevant and competent political designs or institutions that could accommodate the various urban identities and interests. Rather, the prevailing federal political order has resulted in the exclusion of some interests (and identities) and inclusion of some others in the two case study cities, mainly based on ethnic and political affiliation. Among others, the major causes for this were limitations in the philosophy of ethnic federal decentralization, gaps in the federal and regional constitutions, untamed power relations, historical burden, and the rural- biased national development policies of the ruling regime. Such an exclusionary nature of the country’s ethnic federal order in turn has ushered in significant political changes and development in state-society and inter-society relationships in multiethnic cities. One of these was the development of societal engagement in contest and bargaining over state power, resources, symbols, identities and citizenship, or in negotiating statehood, as it is preferred to be called in this study. Such developments, the study argues, contradict the pre-1991 political culture of the country whereby state related political conflicts and negotiations had been confined mainly to the elite and national level.
Central to this study, therefore, is that instead of, or more importantly than state power, the ethnic decentralization processes in Ethiopia have resulted in the ‘decentralization’ of conflict and bargaining over state power, resources, identities, down to the local community, which more or less are similar in both cities. In terms of development implications, the study argues that such changes may have salient meaning and implications for socio-economic and political development process in the country, especially in the long terms, since societal political awareness and engagement could be taken as prerequisite for socio-economic and political development, even for state-building processes in general. However, since the ethnic federal - induced political engagements unfold beyond the scope and even against the norms and principles of the formal institutions, it could lead to unpredictable political and security crises in the country, especially in the short term. The study, therefore, suggests the need to reinvent the country’s ethnic federal political order in a way it could accommodate the various urban identities and interests, and also institutionalize the resultant conflicts of statehood. Doing that may help to expedite the development of the long-coveted democratic and inclusionary state in the country.
Advisors:Goetsche, Laurent and Kefale, Asnake and Péclard, Didier
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
UniBasel Contributors:Péclard, Didier
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:13467
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:1 Online-Ressource (xiii, 351 Blätter)
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edoc DOI:
Last Modified:31 Jan 2020 05:30
Deposited On:30 Jan 2020 10:21

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