PANEL 2.08

Moving boundaries: Dynamics of frontiers and the question of Ethiopia's access to the sea

Bahru Zewde, History Department, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
Markus Hoehne, Max Planck Institute, Halle, Germany.

Boundaries are usually perceived, at first sight, as static and thus being rather opposed to movement – stopping movement, restricting movement, closing territories. However, modern approaches to boundaries have revealed the possibility of new approaches to boundaries, which can be perceived as permeable membranes, organizing and regulating movements, but not stoping them. One aspect of boundaries is the fact that they define territories which are separated under some specific aspects, but still interlinked under other aspects. There is cross-boundary movement, peoples profiting from the permeability of boundaries, and from the restricted accesses which permit movements only under specific conditions.

This panel is not only interested into the relationship between moving peoples, groups or individuals, but also into the dynamics of the creation and movement of boundaries themselves. This can be discussed from a historical, legal, or anthropological perspectives. Boundaries are not only, what laws and maps show or make us belief to exist, but what is also in the mind of the people, be it politicians or traditional elders, whose perspectives deserve to be taken serious as a subject of study, and influential on the creation of boundaries through their perception. Also papers will be welcome who discuss the changing quality of boundaries from opening themselves up to new kinds of movements, and simultaneously closing themselves again against others, i.e. the double-face quality of boundaries between the restriction of movements and making them possible through giving a specific quality and structure to these movements. This includes also the dream of "what might be found beyond the boundaries", such as the sea-coast, the international trade, lost territories etc., which shall be discussed from a documentary and critical perspective. This includes the discussion of buffer-zones between territories as retreat areas for refugees today or shifta in the past, which form very dynamic segments of society, and of frontiers which shall be pushed further, such as by peasant settlers in rural tradition and older history, or as a symbolic idea of modernity.

Ethiopia's access to the sea. One particular issue that will be focused on and discussed within the panel will be Ethiopia's access to the sea. Ethiopia, a country with the second highest population in Africa, remains landlocked and the quest for unimpeded access to the sea has remained a perennial Ethiopian pre-occupation, generating passion and debate. This question would be addressed from both the historical and legal perspectives, with panelists examining the failings and achievements of modern Ethiopian history as well as the missed opportunities.

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Ethiopia’s Illusive Quest for an Outlet to the Sea: The Case of the Haud-Zeila Exchange



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Authors are advised to submit their paper to the Organizing Committee
before September 30, 2012

Papers will be published as pre-proceedings on the website, under each panel section.

Papers should be limited to ca. 5000 words or 30,000 signs (including spaces).

Papers have to be submitted online, by uploading under each panel section (go to the page of the panel in which your paper is selected and upload your text).

Papers can also be sent to the Organizing Committee ( with specification of panel number.

Submitted papers will be directly transmitted to the panel organizers and published online after approval by the panel organizers.

Guidelines to authors for formatting papers:

Transilteration systems for Ethiosemitic languages

submit your paper (.doc / .odt / .pdf) *