Eritrea recently emerged from a devastating thirty-one-year war for national independence. One right, self-determination, held center stage. In the everyday, Wilsonian sense, this was achieved in 1991 by military success, and ratified by domestic referendum and international recognition. Yet, self-determination is still an issue. What is the “self “that will determine Eritrea’s peacetime future? How is the nation to
be represented? How are its decisions to be made? How are the diverse range of Eritrean identities to be incorporated in this putatively singular self?
The struggle decimated two generations of Eritrea’s young adults. It brought enormous destruction of physical resources, from the uprooting of the country’s main intercity railroad tracks to the uprooting of ancient olive orchards by a vengeful Ethiopian occupier in retreat. The major port city of Massawa was left in ruins; between war and drought, the country’s livestock, forests, and farmland suffered almost...
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