The political ecology of conflict between Afar and Issa-Somali pastoralists in Ethiopia




Prof. Dr. Detlef Müller-Mahn


Bevölkerungs- und Sozialgeographie




08 / 2011 - 04 / 2012


This research project builds on results of a previous project on vulnerability and risk discourses among the Afar pastoralists of Ethiopia. The results indicated that the increasing violent encounters between Afar and the neighbouring Issa-Somali play a major role for the critical livelihood conditions of these people. The new research wants to analyse the historical genesis, context and dynamics of the conflict integrating the perspectives of all participating conflict actors and applying a multi-level-approach. This allows analysing the complex conflict dynamics in a context in which international geopolitical tensions and contested territorial claims between Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti interact with interventions of governmental and non-governmental actors and processes of social change among the pastoral and post-pastoral groups.


Leading questions of this research deal with 1) mechanisms of mutual intensification of social, ecological and political conflict factors, 2) discursive interpretation of the conflict and legitimization of violence among the conflicting parties and 3) the interplay of indigenous, governmental and non-governmental institutions within the process of conflict resolution.