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Eritrea: The making of a nation 1890-1991
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2000 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation examines the century-long process of the making of the Eritrean nation.Developments that culminated in the emergence of the State of Eritrea in 1991 are investigated and elaborated as they are traced from their beginnings in 1890, when Italy declared the creation of its new Colony of Eritrea. The study argues that the act of territorial delineation initiated the creation of Eritrea, followed by various phases of transformation that shaped its formation. This century-long process is divided into three distinct periods, Italian rule, the British Administration and Ethiopian rule.

This thesis contends that the making of Eritrea was fundamentally the result of the actions of two groups of collective actors - the colonial powers and the nationalist movements. It examines this interplay, beginning with the impact of Italian colonialism on the socio-economic structure of Eritrean society. The nationalist political movement fostered the development of Eritrean national consciousness. The impact of Ethiopian involvement in Eritrea was significant in that the resistance it sparked in Eritreans led to the creation of an Eritrean identity. The National Liberation Movement, in its fight against Ethiopian occupation, and in its intention of bringing social change contributed decisively to the formation of the Eritrean nation. Based on the existing paradigm of theories of nation formation, six analytical dimensions are selected. These are territorial integration, socio-economic integration, politico-legal integration, common history, common culture and the will to live together. A sociological interpretation of the process of formation of the Eritrean nation is elaborated through a chronological examination of developments in Eritrea.

The central points of the thesis are briefly summarised as follows. Pre-colonial societies with no common history, culture or state-like organisation were integrated by the Italians into what came to be known as the Colony of Eritrea. Territorial integration was achieved under Italian rule, while the process of socio-economic and politico-legal integration continued during the British Administration and Ethiopian-domination. Out of this integration by force and the Eritreans' struggle against colonial rule, a commonly experienced history and shared culture emerged, and the people of Eritrea began to develop a will to live together. The emergent dimensions of nation formation in Eritrea are characterised by territorial, socio-economic and politico-legal integration, common history, common culture and the will to live together. A duality of identity also characterises the Eritrean path to nation formation in the form of both sub-national identity and national identity. Filly, the State of Eritrea emerged from the struggles between the Ethiopian rulers and the NLM, which shaped and reshaped the web of relationships between the mentioned six emergent dimensions of nation characterising Eritrea.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2000. , [4], 344 p.
Keyword [en]
Sociology, Eritrea, Nation Formation, Colonialism, Identity, Integration, Transformation, Resistance, Collective Memory, Struggle, Liberation
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-61ISBN: 91-506-1387-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-61DiVA: diva2:167271
Public defence
2000-03-11, Room IX, University Building, Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2000-02-19 Created: 2000-02-19Bibliographically approved

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