Accepted paper:

The inscription and negotiation of ethnic difference in a space of urban renewal

Authors:

Sabine Mohamed (Ruprecht Karls University Heidelberg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the inscription of ethnic difference within a state project to constitute a pluralist vision of the nation in the aftermath of a violent political transition. It investigates how difference becomes in/visible through processes of urban development in everyday Addis Ababa.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the inscription of ethnic difference within a state project to constitute a pluralist vision of the nation in the aftermath of a violent political transition. It investigates how difference becomes in/visible through processes of urban and infrastructural development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This work engages the everyday life of young men in an eviction site in the city center, navigating between erasures, ruins of their former demolished houses and creating new jobs in between emerging infrastructures. Ethiopia was administratively reconstituted in 1991 and divided it into nine ethnically identified regions and two multiethnic areas- one of the latter being Addis Ababa. Representing a fundamental break with the former Communist state and the earlier monarchy, the current regime has attempted to mediate citizenship through the formal recognition of ethnic difference as the key to national unity. How may unity be forged under a system that recognizes diverse ethnically based sovereignties? How do these inscriptions and affects emerge in everyday Addis Ababa? How do the spectacular attainments of the state, new infrastructures and the surge for national development, translate into the time-space, chronotope, that these young men situate themselves in?

panel Urba05
The everyday makeshifts of life at the urban margins