International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

Issa-Afar re-membering, re-presentation and dramaturgy of violence

Mu'uz Gidey Alemu
  • Mu'uz Gidey Alemu
  • Wollo University, Department of Civics and Ethical Studies, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 27 January 2015
  •  Accepted: 01 April 2015
  •  Published: 31 May 2015


This paper presents the phenomenology of Issa-Afar protracted violence in Ethiopia from hitherto unexplored vintage points of remembering (subjective memory), re-presentation (narrative construction and re-construction of remembering), and dramaturgy (the discursive and performative utility) of violence. Issa-Afar violent conflict is one of the most protracted violent conflicts in the Horn of Africa that unabatedly perpetuated at least since the turn of 20th century to date. Situated at the cross-roads of the most insecure, fragile and geo-strategically significant region of the Horn characterized by Regional Security Complex, and the environmentally and historically marginalized pastoral territories of Ethiopia, Issa-Afar protracted violent conflict is checkered with local, national, regional and global interplay of forces; the complex overlap of identity, politics, geography and history have set the context and dynamics of perpetual violence. The study strongly contends that the unattended continuity of memories of violence, the remembering, representation and dramaturgy involved have contributed to the self-perpetuation of violence; and strongly recommends to re-tune state and none state efforts to address the invisible and visible, consequential and inconsequential utilities of Issa-Afar conflict in a synchronic orientation. The paper has purely qualitative research design and exploratory analytical approach which is based on the collection and analyses of huge qualitative data from triangulated data collection tools covering eight decades. Primary data sources were gathered from Afar, Issa, Oromo and federal organ informants; secondary archives of the three successive governments accessed are from Afar, Somali, Harari and Dire Dawa administrative organs, as well as Central (Federal) government archives at Addis Ababa. Theories of protracted violent conflict (from peace studies), dramaturgy of violence (from sociology) and memory and representation of violence (from Hierological history and anthropology) are triangulated under the umbrella of Constructive Conflict Transformation; theories are embedded in the main body as triangulated frame of analyses. The paper is organized into four parts; part one provides prefatory note; part two describes the prognosis of the conflict; part three analyses memories, narrations and representation of violence based on critical reflections on popular beliefs, official evidences and historical documents and informant narrations; part four presents the complex impact of remembering and representation in molding the dramaturgical shift of recent Issa-Afar violence; the last part makes brief remarks as conclusion and recommendation.

Key words: Issa-Afar, remembering, representation, dramaturgy, trauma, victimization.