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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Horn of Africa Course 2019

The 2019 Horn of Africa Course examines the Somali-speaking lands, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and northern Kenya. It explores the historical and contemporary features that make the Horn the world’s most crisis-ridden region. 

This year’s course takes place amid sweeping political change in the Horn of Africa. A leadership transition in Ethiopia is reshaping the domestics politics of the region’s most populous state and reconfiguring regional relations more broadly. Among the most significant transformations have been the dramatic opening of political space within Ethiopia, Ethiopia’s landmark rapprochement with Eritrea, and renewed political momentum across the Horn region behind an agenda of regional integration. The course will place these developments in deeper historical context, examine the relevant actors and interests currently at play, and explore the implications of this period of political flux across the Horn’s various states.

The course will also examine major socio-economic and demographic transformations in the Horn, of which rapid urbanization and (forced) displacements loom particularly large. By focusing attention on the causes, effects and dynamics of these social transformations, carefully designed lectures and group discussions will engage issues of enduring relevance for regional governments, their development partners, and the citizens they serve. As always, the course brings together a diverse and dynamic array of top experts who share a deep passion for the histories, cultures, and peoples of the Horn. The Co-Directors of Studies for the course will be Michael Woldemariam and Jutta Bakonyi. They will be joined by a team of leading experts.



Highlights of the syllabus

DAY 1 Geographies, People and Cultures of the Horn

  • The politics of ethnicity in the Horn
  • Religion in the Horn
  • Political identitites in the Ethiopian-Somali border region

DAY 2 Political history and state formation in the Horn

  • Colonialism and independent statehood in the Horn
  • Ethiopia’s developmental state
  • Eritrea: Independence and isolation

DAY 3 Mobility, migration and urbanization

  • Migration, mass-flight and refugee management in Ethiopia and Eritrea
  • Djibouti: A capital in search of a global destiny
  • Looking at Somali cities from the view of displaced people

DAY 4 The Horn in an era of change

  • Resistance and reform in Ethiopia
  • Somalia, Somaliland and Djibouti in a region in flux
  • The new scramble? Great and middle powers in the Horn of Africa

DAY 5 Security and development

  • Al-Shabaab: Security implication for the Horn
  • Youth and generational change in the Horn
  • Multilateralism in the Horn
  • Environment, resource management and livelihoods
  • Recent Publications