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Religion, Repression, and Human Rights in Eritrea and the Diaspora

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
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  • 1 Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Tennessee, 250 South Stadium Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996, USAthepner@utk.edu
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Abstract

This paper analyzes the logic of the Eritrean state’s repression of religious identities and institutions from a historical and transnational perspective. It argues that contemporary religious repression expresses cultural, political, and generational conflicts related to the internal dynamics of Eritrea’s postrevolutionary transition, the transnational configuration of the nation-state, and larger preoccupations with the pressures of globalization. A key proposition is that repression of religion is related to both the modernist secularism of the nationalist regime and the ways in which human rights discourse intersects simultaneously with northern interventionism and transnational diaspora opposition to the Eritrean regime. Analyzing the Eritrean case with respect to contemporary critical scholarship on the tensions and contradictions inherent in secularism and human rights discourse highlights how their emancipatory potentials can be co-opted by regimes of power.

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