Nomads in the Shadows of Empires

Contests, Conflicts and Legacies on the Southern Ethiopian-Northern Kenyan Frontier


In Nomads in the Shadows of Empires Gufu Oba presents accounts of why the legacies of banditry and ethnic conflicts have proved so difficult to resolve along the southern Ethiopian and northern Kenyan frontier. Using interpretative and comparative methods to dialogue the relationships between different political actors on both sides of the frontier, the work captures the dynamics of political events related to imperial contests over borders and trans-frontier treaty. A complex evolution of inter-societal relations, as well as the relations between partitioned nomads and the imperial states had resulted in persistent conflicts. This work improves the understanding why frontier pastoralists continue to experience conflict over land, even after the transfer of the tribal territories to the imperial and postcolonial states.

Please click here to watch an interview with the author in Oromo.

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Gufu Oba, Dr Phil. (1996), is professor of Ecology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. His research is interdisciplinary, including frontier history, nomads and states in the Horn of Africa. He has published numerous articles in peer reviewed journals.
'Oba (ecology, Norwegian U. of Life Sciences) draws not only on academic studies, but also on the experience of his own grandparents and parents, who lived through the partitioning of the frontiers region between the Empire of Ethiopia and the British East African Protectorate of Kenya. The colonial era has implications for how control was exercised over formerly free populations, he says, and the history of frontiers in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere needs to shift focus from contests between imperial states to resistance by the frontier nomads'.

In: Reference & Research Book News, December 2013

List of Illustrations
1. Introduction
2. Pre-Colonial Shifting Resource Borders and Ethnic Relations, 1800–1908
3. The Marking of an Imperial Frontier: Two Borders, Two States, 1898–1909
4. Tax Extractions, Imperial Relations and Responses by Frontier Nomads, 1908–1935
5. Transfrontier Grazing and Watering Rights: A Proxy of Border Contests, 1908–1935
6. Tigre Frontier Banditry: A Legacy of Imperial Conquest, 1908–1934
7. Negotiating Ethnic Conflicts: States and Feuding Nomads, 1911–1935
8. Fascist Italy’s Conquest of Ethiopia: The Southern Front, 1935–1937
9. A New Imperial Neighbor on the Frontier: The Dilemma of Coexistence, 1936–1939
10. War, Contests and Conflicts: A Brief Collapse of an Imperial Frontier, 1939–1942
11. The Return to Imperial Frontier Politics: The British and Ethiopia, 1942–1948
12. Jeegir Banditry: Rebellion by Frontier Nomads, 1941–1943
13. Compensating Victims of Banditry in 1943: States and Pastoralists
14. Political Legacies of Shifting Politics
15. Summary
All interested in frontier and empire and colonial history as well as researchers of states and nomads and readers of politics and ethnic conflicts in Africa.
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