Transformation in Gumuz-Oromo Relations: Identity, Conflict and Social Order in Ethiopia

The dissertation project aims at examining the dynamism of Gumuz –Oromo relations in the framework of conflict and social order. The fieldwork sites are - where direct and explicit tensions have been formed, namely along the borders of Kamashi Zone in Benishangul Gumuz National Regional state and Eastern Wallaga of Oromiya National Regional State. The study sheds light on how the formation of regional states after 1991 in Ethiopia re-examined and exacerbated interrelationships between the Gumuz and Oromo neighbours. Yet the questions of how order emerges and how it is sustained necessitates understanding the dynamics of conflict. The answers to the questions are usually not viable without understanding the role of major actors involved in mediation and punishments in the due course of managing conflict towards maintaining order. Hence, the study cherishes realizing the nexus in study of conflict, mediation and/or punishment [retaliation] and social order. In doing so, the study raise an array of questions. What are the sources of conflict? Are they primarily identity, constituted ideologies and other political mobilization spawn conflict or are resources and boundary more likely than others to erupt structural violence ? What are the historical memories and recurrent discourses resulting in suspicion and fear on the fact of Gumuz that the Oromo are against their regional autonomy? And how are social order and peaceful interaction maintained between Gumuz and Oromo and enforced between regional states?

The project will be based on fieldwork conducted in places where there is direct and explicit tensions between Gumuz and Oromo. The cases in these places will be examined in view of their regional, national and international contexts. The focus will be extended by a historical view on the changes of indigenous social institutions, state and government structures, and the related issues.

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