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Playing Different Games: The Paradox of Anywaa and Nuer Identification Strategies in the Gambella Region, Ethiopia

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Volume 4

Integration and Conflict Studies

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Playing Different Games

The Paradox of Anywaa and Nuer Identification Strategies in the Gambella Region, Ethiopia

Dereje Feyissa

254 pages, 16 illus., 9 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-088-3 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2011)

eISBN 978-0-85745-089-0 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


"[A]n ethnographically rich, historically meticulous, theoretically informed analysis of ethnic conflict in a strategically important area of Africa. It shows the value of multi-sited methodologies that bring international, national and regional levels to bear upon the analysis of Africa’s new, civil wars.”  ·  Stephen Reyna, University of Manchester


Focusing on ethnicity and its relation to conflict, this book goes beyond sterile debates about whether ethnic identities are ‘natural’ or ‘socially constructed’. Rather, ethnic identity takes different forms. Some ethnic boundaries are perceived by the actors themselves as natural, while others are perceived to be permeable. The argument is substantiated through a comparative analysis of ethnic identity formation and ethnic conflict among the Anywaa and the Nuer in the Gambella region of western Ethiopia. The Anywaa and the Nuer are not just two ethnic groups but two kinds of ethnic groups. Conflicts between the Anywaa and Nuer are explained with reference to three variables: varying modes of identity formation, competition over resources and differential incorporation into the state system.

Dereje Feyissa was a 21st Century Centre of Excellence Fellow in the Department of Anthropology, Osaka University, from 2003 to 2005, and a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle from 2005 to 2008. He has lectured on Ethiopian history and politics at Alemaya University and at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, and on Social Anthropology at Martin Luther University and the University of Bayreuth in Germany. Currently, Dereje is a Humboldt Fellow for Experienced Researchers at the University of Bayreuth. His publications focus on social inequality, identity and conflict, ethnic groups and the state, customary institutions of conflict resolution, Islam in contemporary Ethiopia and the political economy of development.

Subject: Peace and Conflict Studies Anthropology (General)
Area: Africa


List of Figures and Tables          
List of Acronyms           

Introduction: the Regional Setting of Ethnic Identification and Ethnic Conflict


Chapter 1. Theoretical Orientation and Arguments


Chapter 2. The Anywaa Primordialist Ethnic Identity Formation
Chapter 3. The Nuer Constructivist Ethnic Identity Formation


Chapter 4.In the Riverine Lands
Chapter 5. The Cultural Contestation
Chapter 6.Differential Incorporation into the Ethiopian State
Chapter 7. The Anywaa Response to Ethiopian Ethnic Federalism
Chapter 8. The Nuer Response to Ethiopian Ethnic Federalism
Chapter 9. Civil War in the Sudan and Ethnic Processes in the Gambella Region           

Conclusion: Modes of Ethnic Identification           

Glossary of Local Terms

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