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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Horn of Africa Course 2015

New directors, new directions

This year Ken Menkhaus steps out of his role as academic director of the Horn Course, making way for Laura Hammond and Dereje Feyissa. Laura Hammond is a Reader in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has worked on the Somali territories since 1998. She also lived and worked in Ethiopia from 1993-1997 and 1999-2000, and continues to research there. She has written widely about migration, displacement and diasporas, conflict, livelihoods and food security. She is the author of This Place Will Become Home: Refugee Repatriation to Ethiopia (2004) and editor, with Christopher Cramer and Johan Pottier, of Researching Violence in Africa: Methodological and Ethical Issues (2011). Dereje Feyissa is the Africa Research Director at the International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI). He has lectured  at the Alemayu University in Ethiopia, at Martin Luther University and the University of Bayreuth in Germany, and at Addis Ababa University. He is the author of Playing different games: the paradox of Anywaa and Nuer identification strategies in Gambella (2011) and co-editor of Borders and Borderlands as a resource in the Horn of Africa (2010). Ken Menkhaus writes:

With Laura and Dereje as academic co-directors, the Horn course will be in very good hands. They are veterans of the Course with high reputations in their respective academic fields. And this year’s teaching team, which draws on our eight years of experience running the course, is as strong as it has ever been.

Borders and Borderlands in the Horn of Africa

‘Borders and Borderlands’ is the principal theme for this year’s Horn of Africa course, held from 13 to 19 June 2015 near Naivasha, Kenya. The region’s vast peripheries, long overlooked in national affairs and development programming, continue to push their way onto center stage—as the main sites of oil exploration, ambitious development and infrastructure schemes, cross-border trade and, informal governance systems. They are also the site of multiple border disputes, conflict over federalism and devolution, and cross-border insurgency attacks.

We have assembled an all-star group of regional experts. Christopher Clapham (University of Cambridge), doyen of Ethiopian studies, will address issues of modern Ethiopian history, nationalism, and the state in the Horn of Africa. Dereje Feyissa (International Law and Policy Institute) and Berouk Mesfin (Institute for Security Studies) will discuss political economy and development issues in Ethiopia, borderland politics in Ethiopia, and rising political mobilization of religious identity. Laura Hammond (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) shares her recent research on the diaspora, remittances, and women in politics in Somalia. Michael Woldemariam (Boston University) will provide analysis of Ethiopian and Eritrean political developments and regional relations in the Horn. Lee Cassanelli (University of Pennsylvania) offers his analysis of key historical themes in the region and their relevance to contemporary developments and his reflections on the long history of foreign aid in Somalia. Mark Bradbury (Rift Valley Institute) will assess the latest developments in Somaliland, civil society, and the problems of external stabilization programs in the region. Matt Bryden (Sahan Research) covers contemporary political economy and security trends in Somalia. Finally, Ruth Iyob (University of Missouri) will discuss Eritrea and gender issues. Additional lecturers will be added to the roster in coming weeks.

In addition to our borders and borderlands theme, we will also be exploring climate change and the environment, livelihoods, hydro-politics, gender issues, population movements and displacement, and the challenges of foreign aid, as well as the standard sessions on aspects of national and regional politics and development.

Scope of the course

The Horn of Africa Course covered Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, Puntland, and Northern Kenya. The 2015 course offered a multi-disciplinary examination of the crises afflicting the Horn and explores continuity and change under new political leadership at the national and sub-national level across the region.

Highlights of the syllabus

DAY 1:  Land, people, identities: geography and environment; religions, nationalism and other -isms.
DAY 2:  History: Cold War and modern history; governance and development strategies; continuities and change.
DAY 3:  Ethiopia and Eritrea: political trends since 1991; the developmental state; post-Meles politics; foreign policy.
DAY 4:  Somali territories, Djibouti, and Northern Kenya: state- and peace-building; federalism, Somaliland and Puntland; al-Shabaab; contemporary Djibouti; devolution and refugees. 
DAY 5:  Transnational, Comparative and Emerging Issues (I): borders and boundaries; regional economic trends.
DAY 6:  Transnational, Comparative and Emerging Issues (II): humanitarianism; pastoralism; migration and remittances.


Core teaching staff

Laura Hammond PhD
Head of Development Studies Department, SOAS

Dereje Feyissa PhD
Africa Research Director, International Law and Policy Institute, Addis Ababa

Mark Bradbury  
RVI Horn of Africa and East Africa Regional Director

Lee Cassanelli PhD
Associate Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania 

Christopher Clapham PhD
Emeritus Professor, Politics & International Relations, University of Cambridge

Michael Woldemariam PhD
Assistant Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Boston University

Berouk Mesfin
Senior Researcher, Institute for Security Studies, Addis Ababa

Matt Bryden
Director, Sahan Research

Ruth Iyob PhD
Professor and Research Fellow, University of Missouri

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