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Discord and fragmentation in Eritrean politics, 1941-1981

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Title: Discord and fragmentation in Eritrean politics, 1941-1981
Author(s): Sishagne, Shumet
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Crummey, Donald E.
Department / Program: History
Discipline: History
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): History, African History, Modern Political Science, General
Abstract: This study is an attempt to reconstruct the political history of Eritrea from 1941 to 1981. The fifty years of colonial rule following the imposition of Italian rule in 1890 failed to forge a common identity among the various communities in Eritrea. Lacking a common bond which could transcend sectarian views and confessional interests, the political forces which emerged in Eritrea in the 1940s, were unable to agree among themselves on the territory's future.The leadership of Eritrea's various communities found it easier to rally support along parochial lines rather than through an all encompassing Eritreanism which did not command the loyalty of a significant section of the population. Pre-colonial identity played crucial role in determining political affiliation. The majority of the Christian population supported the Unionist Party which stood for integration with Ethiopia, while the Moslem community remained apprehensive about the prospect of union with the Christian empire.This study underscores that the notion of constructing an Eritrean nation appealed to few in the territory in the 1940s and 1950s and was firmly resisted by a great majority of the highland peasantry and the urban population. The initiative to create an all-inclusive Eritrean identity came largely from interested foreign patrons. This paper amply documents the role played by the respective powers in fostering Eritrean separatism.This work highlights crucial developments in Eritrean politics such as the demise of the Ethio-Eritrean federation, the birth and development of the armed secessionist movement, the course of the bitter civil war between rival guerrilla factions, and the process through which the EPLF attempted to impose national consensus through force of arms. It argues that contrary to widely spread assumptions, secessionism was not desired by the majority of Eritreans when the insurgency started in the early 1960s. This paper concludes that the survival and strengthening of the Eritrean insurgency owes a great deal to the political failure of the Ethiopian state.
Issue Date: 1992
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/19718
Rights Information: Copyright 1992 Sishagne, Shumet
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9305696
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9305696
 

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