Document Type

Honors Project


This Honors Project provides an extended discussion to state and nation-building in Ethiopia, building on the article "Imperial Ethiopia: Conquest and the Case of National Articulation" which appeared in the 2016 Volume 5, Issue 1, of the American Studies Department journal, Tapestries.


This honors thesis examines the evolution of the state and nation-building processes in four historical periods in Ethiopia. I argue that, in the generational efforts towards consolidation and change, each period throws up acute tensions between an increasingly centralizing political apparatus and the civic and material existence of ethnic peripheries. These contradictions are apparent in the attempts to secure the country's territorial sovereignty under Menelik II, the efforts towards modernization by Emperor Haile Selassie, the militaristic-cum-Marxist drive under Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam, and the construction of a developmental state under the leadership of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. While some achievements could be discerned in each period, all of them raise questions about legitimacy and competence—two factors that are indispensable for the ultimate success of a state in managing its own vulnerabilities and the fate of its society.



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