Renowned Africanist and Scholar to Give a Public Lecture at Georgetown University

Jan 25, 2016

One of the world’s leading scholars on Africa, Professor Christopher Clapham, will be the distinguished speaker at an upcoming Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) public lecture titled “Africa’s International Relations and the Politics of State Survival: What the Horn tells us about the 21st Century World,” on Monday, January 25 at 6pm.

In a lecture that will be moderated by GU-Q’s Dr. Harry Verhoeven, the noted scholar will present a critical account of the dynamic history and ongoing challenges facing the Horn of Africa, which is comprised of Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Somali territories. He will explore how this region, long embroiled in conflict and hardship, offers insights into international politics and development. He will also share his analysis on the region’s future, which remains extremely uncertain.

“The character of this very distinctive part of Africa derives basically from its geography,”  said Dr. Clapham, who was based at the Centre of African Studies at Cambridge University for the last decade, prior to his recent retirement. “These origins have in turn defined different kinds of state: notably an Ethiopian state, defined by its ancient history and a strong sense of its right to control surrounding peoples; a Somali state, founded on a claim to the unity and self-determination of the Somali peoples who had been divided by colonial partition; and an Eritrean state, derived from the bitter thirty-year struggle for independence from Ethiopia that culminated in victory in 1991 – at precisely the time that Somalia was collapsing into anarchy.” 

The Horn of Africa, he argues, “is thus a classic example of the principle that conflict in the international system occurs when neighbouring states have very different ideas of the reasons for their own existence.”

The future of the region, he concludes, depends on “the outcome of the continuing conflict between the forces of integration represented notably by the expanding Ethiopian economy and the attempt to incorporate neighbouring states into an inevitably Ethiopian-dominated and hence contentious development community, and those of fragmentation deriving from Somalia, Eritrea, and neighbouring South Sudan and even Kenya.”

Professor Christopher Clapham also served for 15 years as the editor of The Journal of Modern African Studies. His published works include Transformation and Continuity in Revolutionary Ethiopia (1988), Africa and the International System: the Politics of State Survival (1996), and African Guerrillas (1998).

Anyone interested in attending the public event can RSVP at SF........[at]GEORGETOWN.EDU

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