- From the Editor
In this issue, NEAS features contributions from scholars who examine the roots—some recent, some much older—of institutional practices and intellectual discourses that continue to inform northeast African politics and society in our own time. William Berridge's study of policing in colonial Sudan reveals the limited ability (and willingness) of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium administration to regulate its own police forces, thereby enabling some of those local forces to pursue their own personal and sectarian agendas at several critical moments in the country's modern history. The absence of impartiality in the state's pursuit of law and order is clearly a phenomenon that continues to plague state-society relations in many parts of contemporary northeast Africa.
Joseph Venosa's examination of the Muslim intelligentsia's role in the debates over Eritrea's future following World War II suggests that modern nationalism in northeast Africa had multiple intellectual and associational roots. While early efforts to unite Muslim and Christian nationalists in Eritrea foundered in the face of local, regional, and international pressures for union or federation with Ethiopia, Islamic sentiments in favor of self-determination continued to inform Eritreans' subsequent struggle for independence. There and elsewhere in the region, Islamic schooling continues to provide new generations with a widely shared vision and vocabulary for political reform that both complements and challenges secular models of governance. [End Page vii]
The Somali Manifesto of 1990 was a last-ditch attempt by Somalia's civilian elites to persuade the beleaguered dictator Mohamed Siad Barre to resign so as to avoid a violent overthrow of the regime. Mohamed Haji Ingiriis explains why their attempt failed, drawing on the memories of some of the surviving signatories. Like many "roads not taken," the aborted Manifesto initiative points up the possibilities and the limits of political persuasion, both domestically and internationally, under conditions of intrastate conflict.
Finally, Maimire Mennasemay takes a new and provocative look at the fifteenth-century Ethiopian Chronicles of Lalibela and finds evidence of a social utopian vision, couched in myth and legend, that is uniquely Ethiopian and at the same time resonant with more universal utopian discourses. The author argues that modern intellectuals and Ethiopianists have ignored the social aspirations and reformist impulses concealed in the chronicles, opting instead for Western models of modernization derived from the outside rather than from within Ethiopian tradition.
The book reviews included in this issue give an indication of the range and vitality of scholarship that northeast African studies continue to generate. The genres range from village studies to broad regional histories of violence, from Italian colonial culture to local biography. Our reviewers have taken their work seriously, and their reviews constitute important scholarly reflections and commentaries in their own right. We call upon our readers to continue to recommend new and significant books to review.
Readers can look forward to two special issues in 2013: "Images of Art, Culture, and Philosophy: Perspectives on Ethiopian Modernity and Modernism," guest edited by Elizabeth Wolde Giorgis, Addis Ababa University; and "Muslims and Christians in Northeast Africa: Juxtaposed Stories, Intertwined Destinies," guest edited by Eloi Fiquet, French Center for Ethiopian Studies (CFEE), Addis Ababa. We invite suggestions for future thematic issues and guest editors, and we always welcome individual submissions for consideration. [End Page viii]