Amanda Poole, Department of Anthropology, presented a paper on outmigration and state violence in Eritrea at the International Studies Association annual conference in New Orleans on February 18, 2015. She was invited to participate in an interdisciplinary panel on violence and governance issues in the Horn of Africa. Her paper was titled “The Missing and the Martyred: Political Violence and State Survival in Eritrea.”
Citizenship in Eritrea is experienced through “a politics of the missing.” People often describe life in the authoritarian state as a “prison” in which they face varied forms of structural and state violence.
In response to this situation, large numbers of Eritreans have been fleeing the country in recent years, despite the deadly risks involved. Consequently, an important question to ask in relation to contemporary dynamics in Eritrea has to do with the role that political violence plays in the survival of the state and collective political projects.
Poole’s paper engages with Jenny Edkin’s (2011) theory of the politics of missing persons in order to explore the changing contours of state-society relations in Eritrea in light of family and community members who are missing due to conscription, flight, and martyrdom. Poole draws from ethnographic fieldwork in an Eritrean refugee resettlement community in 2005 and recent interviews with Eritrean escapees to examine how stories and silences about remigration and missing family members become a means through which people renegotiate categories of national identity, belonging, and the meanings of citizenship.
The International Studies Association is the most widely known scholarly association in the field of international studies, cooperating with 57 international studies associations in over 30 countries.
Read more about the International Studies Association and the 2015 conference theme: “Global IR and Regional Worlds: A New Agenda for International Studies.”
Department of Anthropology