The Horn of Africa as Common Homeland
The State and Self-Determination in the Era of Heightened Globalization
Paper 232 pp.
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Contemporary states are generally presumed to be founded on the elements of nation, people, territory, and sovereignty. In the Horn of Africa however, the attempts to find a neat congruence among these elements created more problems than they solved. Leenco Lata demonstrates that conflicts within and between states tend to connect seamlessly in the region. When these conflicts are seen in the context of pressures on the state in an era of heightened globalization, it becomes obvious that the Horn needs to adopt multidimensional self-determination.
In Structuring the Horn of Africa as a Common Homeland, Leenco Lata discusses the history of conflicts within and between Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and the Sudan, and investigates local and global contributory factors. He assesses the effectiveness of the nation-state model to forge a positive relationship between these governments and the people.
Part 1 summarizes the history of self-determination and the state from the French Revolution to the post-Cold War period. Part 2 shows how the states of the Horn of Africa emerged in a highly interactive way, and how these developments continue to reverberate throughout the region, underscoring the necessity of simultaneous regional integration and the decentralization of power as an approach to conflict resolution.
Motivated by a search for practical answers rather than a strict adherence to any particular theory, this significant work by a political activist provides a thorough analysis of the regions complicated and conflicting goals.
Leenco Lata lived in most of the countries of the Horn of Africa between 1978 and 1993, where he experienced first-hand the resonance of the conflicts in the region. His book, The Ethiopian State at the Crossroads (1999) is often cited as the most comprehensive analysis of why transition to democracy failed in Ethiopia.
“Leenco Lata’s timely study of self-determination and state formation in the Horn of Africa ... provides the kind of fresh thinking that is sorely needed in the present era of transnational identity politics and borderless warfare.”
— Lee Cassanelli, University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2005
“Drawing on theories of the state and the principle of self-determination, Leenco Lata provides an insightful account of the emergence of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan as states, their unsuccessful pursuit of the nation-state ideal, and the resulting internal and interstate conflicts. Not satisfied with simply explaining the past, he then sets out to demonstrate how a deeper understanding of the modern state and the multi-dimensional nature of self-determination might produce a more peaceful region. Anyone interested in the peacebuilding process in the Horn or elsewhere in Africa should read this book.”
— Robert O. Matthews, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, co-editor and co-author of Durable Peace: Challenges for Peacebuilding in Africa
“The literature on the political history and contemporary politics of the Horn of Africa is already voluminous, but I found Lata’s book an original and engaged contribution to the debate with new thoughts on politics and conflict in the region....Lata’s account is innovative and rich....Leenco Lata’s book provides thought-provoking contributions...helping us to productively rethink what is at stake.”
— Jon Abbink, African Studies Review
“In this thoughtful and provocative book, Leenco Lata applies recent theory on nationalism and key developments in world history to the Horn of Africa. He constructively blends these issues in order to analyze ongoing conflicts and efforts at state-building in the Horn. In the process, the author makes a compelling plea for consideration of certain traditional African practices in efforts to expand democracy in the region.”
— David H. Shinn, Adjunct Professor, The George Washington University, US Ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99)
“The contribution of The Horn of Africa as Common Homeland is Lata’s careful linking of the political theories of nationalism and the state to the history of the East African states of Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Somaliland.... Lata’s well-paced, economically written, and thoroughly integrated explanation of the important distinctions between nation and state is clear, compelling, and well supported.... This book deserves to be widely read.”
— Barb Bloemhof, Canadian Book Review Annual
“[W]ritten with scholarly attention to detail yet addressing an issue of great immediate concern to far more than scholars....The Horn of Africa as Common Homeland is vital and timely reading, not only for its identification of severe problems but for its reasoned, rational, and practical suggestions for solutions.”
— Paul T. Vogel, The Midwest Book Review