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Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies - BIGSAS

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Completed Project:

New Forms of Power in the Afar Region of Ethiopia: The Rise of Big Men near the Ethiopia and Djibouti Border


The dissertation was published in 2022 under the same title.

The global financial, energy and food crisis in the latter parts of 2000s has been contributing to a dramatic rush to acquire land located in Africa. From the end of the 1990s to 2008, Ethiopia has given over 3.5 million hectares to investors, while the projected figure for 2015 is 7 million hectares. This phenomenon took place largely in geographically lowland and politically peripheral areas of Ethiopia. There is an ongoing contestation on the narratives given to these land transfers. Furthermore, attempts at systematically examining the effects of large-scale land transfers on social structures and social relations in Ethiopia have been quite limited. The objective of this research project is to understand and describe the effects of the large-scale land transfers on the social and political orders in Gambella, southwestern Ethiopia. Research questions raised include: What are the effects of large-scale land transfers on social differentiation and relations? What are the meanings given to the large-scale land transfers by different actors? What are the political processes involved in the large-scale land transfers? This is a qualitative research. To this end, an extended case method (ECM) will be used for data collection and analysis. The fieldwork will be conducted in Gambella Peoples Regional State (GPRS).

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