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The Horn of Africa as Common Homeland

The State and Self-Determination in the Era of Heightened Globalization

Leenco Lata

Publication Year: 2004

Contemporary states are generally presumed to be founded on the elements of nation, people, territory, and sovereignty. In the Horn of Africa however, the attempts to find a neat congruence among these elements created more problems than they solved. Leenco Lata demonstrates that conflicts within and between states tend to connect seamlessly in the region. When these conflicts are seen in the context of pressures on the state in an era of heightened globalization, it becomes obvious that the Horn needs to adopt multidimensional self-determination.

In Structuring the Horn of Africa as a Common Homeland, Leenco Lata discusses the history of conflicts within and between Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and the Sudan, and investigates local and global contributory factors. He assesses the effectiveness of the nation-state model to forge a positive relationship between these governments and the people.

Part 1 summarizes the history of self-determination and the state from the French Revolution to the post-Cold War period. Part 2 shows how the states of the Horn of Africa emerged in a highly interactive way, and how these developments continue to reverberate throughout the region, underscoring the necessity of simultaneous regional integration and the decentralization of power as an approach to conflict resolution.

Motivated by a search for practical answers rather than a strict adherence to any particular theory, this significant work by a political activist provides a thorough analysis of the regions complicated and conflicting goals.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press


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Table of Contents

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p. vii

List of Figures and Maps

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p. ix

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p. xi

It is impossible to mention all the people and institutions that assisted me while I was undertaking the study that led to this work. I would like to let all those whom I do not mention here know of my deep sense of gratitude. If this work contributes minimally to the promotion of...

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pp. 1-12

This work originated from readings I undertook merely to satisfy my curiosity and clarify my thoughts. The search for clarification was prompted by two events that occurred in the course of my participation in the Oromo people’s struggle for national self-determination. These...

Part I: Self-Determination in History

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1. Self-Determination as Popular Sovereignty

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pp. 15-30

Although it came into greater international prominence only at the end of the First World War, the principle of self-determination can be traced back to the Enlightenment belief that only the people have the right to dispose of themselves. Following from this belief emerged the...

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2. Decolonization in Africa: Aberrant Self-Determination

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pp. 31-36

The principle of self-determination attained unprecedented international exposure at the end of the First World War, raising hopes that by upholding it future wars could be averted. The inconsistencies that attended the implementation of the principle, however, partly contributed...

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3. Post-Cold War Trends in the Nature of the State

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pp. 37-63

The concepts on which the modern state is presumably founded are quite clear. The modern state is situated on a territory whose borders are clearly defined. It embraces all the people living within this territorial space and synthesizes them to create a culturally homogeneous...

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4. Emerging Trends in Self-Determination

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pp. 65-82

Today’s world is experiencing rapidly unfolding change, but has not yet produced a new reality. Hence, concepts, institutions, and practices that are on their way out exist side by side with those that remain pertinent even as new, unprecedented ones are beginning to exert their...

Part II: Resonance of Conflicts in the Horn of Africa

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5. Interactive State Formation in the Horn of Africa

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pp. 85-104

In the first part of this work I tried to trace the evolution of the nationstate and its presumed midwife, the principle of internal self-determination (popular sovereignty) and external self-determination. Self-determination was originally conceived as a vehicle through which the people coalesce...

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6. The Uncertain and Interdependent Fate of Horn Entities

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pp. 105-114

The interactive process that brought the various entities of the Horn of Africa into existence has been summarized in the previous chapter. Their status as tentative footholds for grander imperial territorial acquisitions has also been discussed. I will now proceed to briefly summarize....

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7. Nation-Building: Fitting States into National Moulds

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pp. 115-137

The era after the Second World War witnessed the emergence of the nation-state as supposedly the only appropriate structure for organizing local and global affairs. Empires were subsequently impugned as illegitimate since “Fascist nationalism produced the opposed reality...

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8. Nation-Building in the Sudan

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pp. 139-153

The similarities between Ethiopia’s and neighbouring Sudan’s nation-building projects have been discussed by many scholars. As Markakis notes, “what the ruling groups in Ethiopia and in Sudan perceived as the ‘national’ identity was their own ethnic identity writ large”...

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9. Unification and Nation-Building: Somalia’s Sacred Mission

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pp. 155-161

Until the disintegration of state and society in the 1990s indicated the opposite, Somalia’s homogeneity appeared to render its nation-building prospects one of the least challenging in Africa. Why then did Africa’s most homogeneous nation fail so tragically? Inferring that Somalia’s...

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10. Imagining the Horn of Africa Common Homeland

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pp. 163-190

Political developments in the Horn of Africa since the mid-1870s and their historical resonance were briefly sketched in the previous chapters. As we have seen, ideas broached in the past can trigger events much later in history. Similarly, actions taken decades earlier can influence...

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11. Conclusion

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pp. 191-200

The first part of this work tracked the evolution of the concept of self-determination by looking at its role in articulating a match between the notions of people, nation, state, territory, and sovereignty. The ultimate aim of struggles for self-determination is, of course, to exercise...


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pp. 201-213


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pp. 215-219

E-ISBN-13: 9780889209350
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889204560
Print-ISBN-10: 088920456X

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 57226926
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Horn of Africa as Common Homeland

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Subject Headings

  • Self-determination, National -- Horn of Africa.
  • Horn of Africa -- History.
  • Horn of Africa -- Politics and government.
  • Globalization -- Political aspects -- Horn of Africa.
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