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Dialogues et entretiens

Identity Politics in Contemporary Ethiopia and Sudan

Francesco Staro Interviews Günther Schlee
Gouvernement et politiques identitaires en Éthiopie et au Soudan contemporains. Entretien avec Günther Schlee par Francesco Staro
Francesco Staro and Günther Schlee
p. 1005-1013


In Sudan and Ethiopia, different strategies have been implemented to frame cultural diversity and ethnic identities into the nation-building process. We discuss it here with Günther Schlee, who has been conducting field surveys in these countries over the past 30 years. We focus on the case of nomadic and pastoral populations, their changing identity affiliations and social belongings.

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First lines

Günther Schlee has been director at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology for 20 years, and head of the Department Integration and Conflict. As an emeritus he has taken up a professorship for social anthropology at the Arba Minch University, Ethiopia. His work is an essential contribution to the understanding of interethnic clan relations and ethnic identity dynamics in the Horn of Africa. He conducted extensive fieldwork among mobile pastoralists, as these groups show how ethnic identities evolve over time, and adapt permanently to changing social and ecological environment. He analyzed from a historical perspective the process of ethnogenesis in Northern Kenya and Sudan, and described the importance of migration dynamics and exchange networks in cross-border regions of the Horn and beyond. In his research, the fluidity of ethnic boundaries reflects the coexistence between different identity categories and tribal alliances, as ethnic classifications overlap with membersh...

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Bibliographical reference

Francesco Staro and Günther Schlee, « Identity Politics in Contemporary Ethiopia and Sudan »,  Cahiers d’études africaines, 240 | 2020, 1005-1013.

Electronic reference

Francesco Staro and Günther Schlee, « Identity Politics in Contemporary Ethiopia and Sudan »,  Cahiers d’études africaines [Online], 240 | 2020, Online since 02 December 2020, connection on 08 August 2022. URL :  ; DOI :

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About the authors

Francesco Staro

Laboratoire architecture ville urbanisme environnement (LAVUE), équipe Altérités et territoires (ALTER), Université Paris 8 Saint-Denis, France

Günther Schlee

Arba Minch University, Ethiopia; Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Saale), Germany.

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© Cahiers d’Études africaines

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