Poole Publishes on Agrarian History in Eritrea

Posted on 8/27/2014 3:12:32 PM

Amanda Poole, Department of Anthropology, published a chapter titled “Negotiating Territoriality in Eritrean Refugee Resettlement: Agrarian History, Mobile Livelihoods, and State Making” in the edited volume Negotiating Territoriality: Spatial Dialogue between State and Tradition.

Since independence in the early 1990s, refugee resettlement projects in Eritrea have espoused a particular narrative of state-making through territorialization, bringing provincial and diverse communities into the fold of a progressive nation building project. However, these projects have taken shape within the architecture of prior colonial categorizations of people and place that come to justify post-colonial state appropriations of land, even as they are performed in the name of securing tenure and food security for modern citizens.

This chapter draws from ethnographic research in a refugee resettlement community in Eritrea in 2004–05 and focuses on oral histories of shifting livelihood strategies by agro-pastoralists under colonial and post-colonial administrations. These oral histories illuminate the ways in which projects of territorialization in contemporary Eritrea share common threads with colonial (Italian and Ethiopian) projects: a separation of entangled agrarian and pastoral livelihoods and a gradual erosion of resource rights for pastoral communities. At the same time, however, these oral histories detail diverse agro-pastoral paths that provide the seeds for sustainable place-making and community building.

This chapter examines how people in a resettlement community cope with disruptive processes of state territorialization, in part through drawing from survival strategies developed during successive colonial experiences with overlapping, competing, and often violent regional sovereignties.

Negotiating Territoriality (2014) is the latest volume in the Routledge Studies in Anthropology series. Edited by Allan Dawsoon, Laura Zanotti, and Ismael Vaccaro, this book brings “comparative ethnographic and geographic scholarship in conversation with one another to illuminate the varied ways in which space becomes socialized via political, economic, and cognitive appropriation.”

Department of Anthropology