DOI: https://doi.org/10.21847/1728-9343.2019.3(161).150162

Public Sphere, Rationality and the Limits of the Federal Experiment in Ethiopia

Fasil Merawi

Abstract


In the multiethnic polity of Ethiopia, the practical realization of federalism in Ethiopia has been characterized by ethnic conflicts, manufacturing of difference and the abandoning of the grand narrative of Ethiopian unity. In this paper, using the notion of a public sphere as a space for public discourse and rationality from critical theory, I argue that the federal experiment in Ethiopia could only grow in the background of a public sphere that sustains a critical societal practice. Ethiopians could only engage in a common quest for societal progress and refinement, when they have a free and autonomous public sphere.  This space serves as a platform for reflecting on the contradictions in Ethiopian modernity and also existential problems in the country. Such an effort to evolve a public sphere as a foundation for democracy could have foundations in the different precursors of Ethiopian modernity like Dekike Estifanos, hatata of Zera Yacob and writings of Negadras Gebrehiwot and Hiruy Woldeselassie. It could also be situated on new forms of public sphere like social media and their role in fostering democracy in Ethiopia.

 


Keywords


Federal Experiment in Ethiopia; Ethnic Federalism; Public Sphere; Critique; Democratization

Full Text:

PDF

References


Aalen, Lovise and Tronvoll, Kjetil (2009). The End of Democracy? Curtailing Political and Civil Rights in Ethiopia. Review of African Political Economy. 36(120), 193-207. DOI : Doi.org/10.1080/03056240903065067

Abbink, Jon G. (1998). New Configurations of Ethiopian Ethnicity: The Challenge of the South. In Northeast African Studies. 5(1), 59-81. DOI : doi.org/10.1353/nas.1998.0013

Adejumobi Saheed A. (2007). The History of Ethiopia. London: Greenwood Press.

Aklilu, Abraham. (2005). Ethnicity and Dilemmas of State Making: Ethnic Federalism and Institutional Reforms in Ethiopia. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 2(1/2), 77-119. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27828857

Alemseged, Abbay. (2004). Diversity and State-Building in Ethiopia. In African Affairs. 103(413), 593-614. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3518492

Alemu, Habtu. (2005). Multiethnic Federalism in Ethiopia: A Study of the Secession Clause in the Constitution. In Publius. 35(2), 313-335. https://doi.org/10.1093/publius/pji016

Allen, Amy. (2012). The Public Sphere: Ideology and/or Ideal?. In Political Theory. 40(6), 822-829. Sage Publications, Inc. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41703105

Bahru, Zewde. (1994). The Burden of History: The Constraints and Challenges of the Democratization Process in Ethiopia. Paper first presented at the 1994 History Workshop Conference on "Democracy: Popular Precedents, Popular Practice and Popular Culture" 13-15 July 1994, University of the Witwatersrand History Workshop http://hdl.handle.net/10539/8115

Bahru, Zewde. (2008). The Challenge of the New Millennium: Renaissance or Reappraisal?. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 3(2) , 33-47. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27828891

Benhabib, Seyla . (1997). The Embattled Public Sphere: Hannah Arendt, Juergen Habermas and Beyond. In Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory. 90(1), 1-24. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41802076

Brietzke, Paul H. (1995). Ethiopia's "Leap in the Dark": Federalism and Self-Determination in the New Constitution. In Journal of African Law. 39(1), 19-38. https://www.jstor.org/stable/745605

Brroke, John L. (2005). On the Edges of the Public Sphere. In The William and Mary Quarterly. 62(1), 93-98. DOI: 10.2307/3491623

Fraser, Nancy . (1990). Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. In Social Text. 25(1), 56-80. https://www.jstor.org/stable/466240

Goode, Luke. (2005). Jürgen Habermas: Democracy and the Public Sphere. London: Pluto Press.

Habermas, Jürgen. (1991). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Habermas, Jürgen. (1964). The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article. In New German Critique. 3(1), 49-55. http://www.jstor.org/stable/487737

Habtamu, Wondimu. (2013). Federalism and Conflicts’ Management in Ethiopia: Social Psychological Analysis of the Opportunities and Challenges. Discussion Paper Prepared for HOF, IPSS/AAU

Hiruy W/Selassie. (2018). Yethiopiiya Leukan Budin Beawropana Mekakelegnaw Misrak (1903). Edited by Bahru Zewde. Addis Ababa : Ethiopian Academy of Sciences

Ismagilova, Roza. (2004). Ethnicity and Federalism: The Case of Ethiopia: Africa. Africa: Rivista trimestrale di studi e documentazione dell'Istituto italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente. 59(2), 179-200. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40761737

Johnson James and Villa, Dana R. (1994). Public Sphere, Postmodernism and Polemic. In The American Political Science Review.88(2), 427-433.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/2944714

Kebede Kassa. (2016). The Long Term Consequences of Managing and Settling Ethnic Conflicts Through Ethnic Federalism: The Case of Ethiopia . In Int. J. Adv. Res. 4(9), 23-29. http://dx.doi.org/10.21474/IJAR01/1454

Keller, Edmond J. (1981). Ethiopia: Revolution, Class, and the National Question. In African Affairs. 80(321), 519-549. https://www.jstor.org/stable/721990

Ku, Agnes S. (1998). Boundary Politics in the Public Sphere: Openness, Secrecy, and Leak. In Sociological Theory. 16(2), 172-192. https://doi.org/10.1111/0735-2751.00049

Levine, Donald N. (2008). The Promise of Ethiopia: Public Action; Civic Forgiveness; Creative Power. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 3(2) , 103-122. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27828894

Levine, Donald N. (2012). A Revised Analytical Approach to the Evolution of Ethiopian Civilization. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 6(1/2), 29-70. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27828894

Lubo, Teferi. (2012). The Post 1991 ‘inter-ethnic’ conflicts in Ethiopia: An investigation. In Journal of Law and Conflict Resolution, 4(4), 62-69. DOI: 10.5897/JLCR11.045

Maimire, Mennasemay. (2006). Ethiopian Political Theory, Democracy, and Surplus History. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, 2(1/2), 1-32. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27828854

Maimire, Mennasemay. (2008). A Millennium Democratic Goal for Ethiopia: Some Conceptual Issues. In Africa Today. 55(1) , 3-32. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/250678

Maimire, Mennasemay. (2011). The Dekike Estifanos: Towards an Ethiopian Critical Theory. https://ethiopiawinote.wordpress.com

Markakis, John. (1989). Nationalities and the State in Ethiopia. In Third World Quarterly. 11(4), 118-130. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3992334

Marashi, Ibrahim al and Stremlau Nicole A. (2009). Media in the Peace-Building Process: Ethiopia and Iraq, University of Pennsylvania Scholarly Commons Departmental Papers (ASC) Annenberg School for Communication

Messay, Kebede. (2006), Gebrehiwot Baykedagn, Eurocentrism, and the Decentering of Ethiopia. In Journal of Black Studies. 36(6), 815-832. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40034348

McGuigan, Jim. (2005). The Cultural Public Sphere. In European Journal of Cultural Studies. 8(4), 427–443. journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1367549405057827

Mesfin, Gebremichael (2011). Federalism and Conflict Management in Ethiopia: Case Study of Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State. Submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Department of Peace Studies .University of Bradford

Mustapha, Abdul . (2012). The Public Sphere in 21st Century Africa: Broadening the Horizons of Democratisation. In Africa Development. 37(1), 27-41. https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ad/article/view/87539

Semahagn, Gashu. (2014). The Last Post-Cold War Socialist Federation: Ethnicity, Ideology and Democracy in Ethiopia. Burlington : Ashgate Publishing Company.

Svensson, I and Brounéus, K. (2013). Dialogue and interethnic trust: A randomized field trial of 'sustained dialogue' in Ethiopia. In Journal of Peace Research. 50(5) , 563-575. journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0022343313492989

Tekeste, Negash. (2008). Distressed, yet Confident, Ethiopia Enters the Third Millennium. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 3(2), 1-21. https://www.jstor.org/stable/i27828886

Tezera, Tazebew. (2017). The Internet and Democratization in Ethiopia: Challenges and Prospects. In Sonja John, Dagnachew Assefa and Busha Taa(Eds.) Cultures of Democracy in Ethiopia: From Theory to Lived Experiences( pp. 134-152). Addis Ababa: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Ethiopia

Teodros, Kiros. (1996). Claude Sumner's Classical Ethiopian Philosophy. In Northeast African Studies. 3(2) , 39-52. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41931137

Visker, Rudi. (2014). Multicultural differences in the public Sphere. In Phänomenologische Forschungen, änomenologische Forschungen, 285-299. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24360731

Walle, Engedayehu. (1993). Ethiopia: Democracy and the Politics of Ethnicity. In Africa Today, 40(2) ,29-52. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4186904

Ward, Irene. (1997). How Democratic Can We Get? The Internet, the Public Sphere, and Public Discourse. In JAC. 17(3), 365-379. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20866148

Young, John. (1998). Regionalism and Democracy in Ethiopia. In Third World Quarterly,19(2) , 191-204. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3993156


GOST Style Citations


Aalen Lovise and Tronvoll Kjetil. The End of Democracy? Curtailing Political and Civil Rights in Ethiopia. Review of African Political Economy. 2009. 36(120), 193-207. DOI : Doi.org/10.1080/03056240903065067

 

Abbink Jon G. New Configurations of Ethiopian Ethnicity: The Challenge of the South. In Northeast African Studies. 1998. 5(1), 59-81. DOI : doi.org/10.1353/nas.1998.0013

 

Adejumobi Saheed A. The History of Ethiopia. London: Greenwood Press. 2007.

 

Aklilu Abraham. Ethnicity and Dilemmas of State Making: Ethnic Federalism and Institutional Reforms in Ethiopia. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 2005. 2(1/2), 77-119. URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27828857

 

Alemseged Abbay. Diversity and State-Building in Ethiopia. In African Affairs. 2004. 103(413), 593-614. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3518492

 

Alemu Habtu. Multiethnic Federalism in Ethiopia: A Study of the Secession Clause in the Constitution. In Publius. 2005. 35(2), 313-335. URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/publius/pji016

 

Allen Amy. The Public Sphere: Ideology and/or Ideal?. In Political Theory. 2012. 40(6), 822-829. Sage Publications, Inc. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41703105

 

Bahru Zewde. The Burden of History: The Constraints and Challenges of the Democratization Process in Ethiopia. Paper first presented at the 1994 History Workshop Conference on "Democracy: Popular Precedents, Popular Practice and Popular Culture" 13-15 July 1994, University of the Witwatersrand History Workshop URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10539/8115

 

Bahru Zewde. The Challenge of the New Millennium: Renaissance or Reappraisal?. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 2008. 3(2), 33-47. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/27828891

 

Benhabib Seyla. The Embattled Public Sphere: Hannah Arendt, Juergen Habermas and Beyond. In Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory. 1997. 90(1), 1-24. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41802076

 

Brietzke Paul H. Ethiopia's "Leap in the Dark": Federalism and Self-Determination in the New Constitution. In Journal of African Law. 1995. 39(1), 19-38. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/745605

 

Brroke John L. On the Edges of the Public Sphere. In The William and Mary Quarterly. 2005 62(1), 93-98. DOI: https://.doi.org/10.2307/3491623

 

Fraser Nancy. Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. In Social Text. 1990. 25(1), 56-80. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/466240

 

Goode Luke. Jürgen Habermas: Democracy and the Public Sphere. London: Pluto Press, 2005.

 

Habermas, Jürgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1991.

 

Habermas, Jürgen. The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article. In New German Critique. 1964. 3(1), 49-55. URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/487737

 

Habtamu Wondimu. Federalism and Conflicts’ Management in Ethiopia: Social Psychological Analysis of the Opportunities and Challenges. Discussion Paper Prepared for HOF, IPSS/AAU, 2013.

 

Hiruy W/Selassie. Yethiopiiya Leukan Budin Beawropana Mekakelegnaw Misrak (1903). Edited by Bahru Zewde. Addis Ababa : Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, 2018.

 

Ismagilova Roza. Ethnicity and Federalism: The Case of Ethiopia: Africa. In Africa: Rivista trimestrale di studi e documentazione dell'Istituto italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente. 2004. 59(2), 179-200. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40761737

 

Johnson James and Villa, Dana R. Public Sphere, Postmodernism and Polemic. In The American Political Science Review. 1994. 88(2), 427-433. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2944714

 

Kebede Kassa. The Long Term Consequences of Managing and Settling Ethnic Conflicts Through Ethnic Federalism: The Case of Ethiopia . In Int. J. Adv. Res. 2016. 4(9), 23-29. URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.21474/IJAR01/1454

 

Keller, Edmond J. Ethiopia: Revolution, Class, and the National Question. In African Affairs. 1981. 80 (321), 519-549. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/721990

 

Ku Agnes S. Boundary Politics in the Public Sphere: Openness, Secrecy, and Leak. In Sociological Theory. 1998. 16(2), 172-192. URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/0735-2751.00049

 

Levine Donald N. The Promise of Ethiopia: Public Action; Civic Forgiveness; Creative Power. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 2008. 3(2), 103-122. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/27828894

 

Levine Donald N. A Revised Analytical Approach to the Evolution of Ethiopian Civilization. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 2012. 6(1/2), 29-70. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/27828894

 

Lubo Teferi. The Post 1991 ‘inter-ethnic’ conflicts in Ethiopia: An investigation. In Journal of Law and Conflict Resolution, 2012. 4(4), 62-69. DOI: 10.5897/JLCR11.045

 

Maimire Mennasemay. Ethiopian Political Theory, Democracy, and Surplus History. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, 2006. 2(1/2), 1-32. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/27828854

 

Maimire Mennasemay. A Millennium Democratic Goal for Ethiopia: Some Conceptual Issues. In Africa Today. 2008. 55(1) , 3-32. URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/250678

 

Maimire Mennasemay. (2011). The Dekike Estifanos: Towards an Ethiopian Critical Theory. URL: https://ethiopiawinote.wordpress.com

 

Markakis John. Nationalities and the State in Ethiopia. In Third World Quarterly. 1989. 11(4), 118-130. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3992334

 

Marashi Ibrahim al and Stremlau Nicole A. Media in the Peace-Building Process: Ethiopia and Iraq, University of Pennsylvania Scholarly Commons Departmental Papers (ASC) Annenberg School for Communication, 2009.

 

Messay Kebede. Gebrehiwot Baykedagn, Eurocentrism, and the Decentering of Ethiopia. In Journal of Black Studies. 2006. 36(6), 815-832. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40034348

 

McGuigan Jim. The Cultural Public Sphere. In European Journal of Cultural Studies. 2005. 8(4), 427–443. DOI: https://.doi.org/10.1177/1367549405057827

 

Mesfin Gebremichael. Federalism and Conflict Management in Ethiopia: Case Study of Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State. Submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Department of Peace Studies .University of Bradford, 2011.

 

Mustapha Abdul. The Public Sphere in 21st Century Africa: Broadening the Horizons of Democratisation. In Africa Development. 2012. 37(1), 27-41. URL: https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ad/article/view/87539

 

Semahagn Gashu. The Last Post-Cold War Socialist Federation: Ethnicity, Ideology and Democracy in Ethiopia. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2014.

 

Svensson I. and Brounéus K. Dialogue and interethnic trust: A randomized field trial of 'sustained dialogue' in Ethiopia. In Journal of Peace Research. 2013. 50(5), 563-575. DOI: https://.doi.org/10.1177/0022343313492989

 

Tekeste Negash. Distressed, yet Confident, Ethiopia Enters the Third Millennium. In International Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 2008. 3(2), 1-21.

 

Tazebew Tezera. The Internet and Democratization in Ethiopia: Challenges and Prospects. In Sonja John, Dagnachew Assefa and Busha Taa(Eds.) Cultures of Democracy in Ethiopia: From Theory to Lived Experiences. 2017. (pp. 134-152). Addis Ababa: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Ethiopia.

 

Teodros Kiros. Claude Sumner's Classical Ethiopian Philosophy. In Northeast African Studies. 1996. 3(2) , 39-52. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41931137

 

Visker Rudi. Multicultural differences in the public Sphere. In Phänomenologische Forschungen, änomenologische Forschungen, 2014. 285-299. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24360731

 

Walle Engedayehu. Ethiopia: Democracy and the Politics of Ethnicity. In Africa Today. 1993. 40(2), 29-52. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4186904

 

Ward Irene. How Democratic Can We Get? The Internet, the Public Sphere, and Public Discourse. In JAC. 1997. 17(3), 365-379. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20866148

 

Young John. Regionalism and Democracy in Ethiopia. In Third World Quarterly, 1998. 19(2) , 191-204. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3993156

 







Copyright (c) 2019 Fasil Merawi

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

ISSN 1728-9343 (Print)

ISSN 2411-3093 (Online)