New Blog Series: Rethinking Peace in Ethiopia

The explosions of violence across Ethiopia, intersecting with the deep violence woven into the political fabric of Eritrea, pose challenges to political leaders, thought leaders, and civil society.

The gross violations inflicted on the people of Tigray are – like all such cases of mass atrocity – partly sui generis, but also a manifestation of deeper patterns across Ethiopia and the region. The conflicts are political but the violence manifested also has historical resonances and cultural roots, that should be understood and addressed if there is to be peace.

Peace is made among enemies. Much of Ethiopian politics today manifests a discourse according to which peace is possible only by crushing enemies. There is much bitterness, vengefulness, and – to be candid – hatefulness in the Ethiopian public sphere.

Such polarization can also corrode and destroy and mutual tolerance and respect among academic peers.

Over the coming months we will run reflections on aspects of peace in Ethiopia, welcoming contributions from all perspectives.

Alex de Waal is a Research Professor at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, and leads the WPF research programs on African Peacemaking and Mass Starvation.

Considered one of the foremost experts on the Horn of Africa, his scholarly work and practice has also probed humanitarian crisis and response, human rights, pandemic disease, and conflict and peace-building. His latest book is New Pandemics, Old Politics: Two Hundred Years of War on Disease and its Alternatives. He is also author of Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine and The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa (Polity Press, 2015) Following a fellowship with the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard (2004-06), he worked with the Social Science Research Council as Director of the program on HIV/AIDS and Social Transformation, and led projects on conflict and humanitarian crises in Africa (2006-09). During 2005-06, de Waal was seconded to the African Union mediation team for Darfur and from 2009-11 served as senior adviser to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan. He was on the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008 and Atlantic Monthly’s 27 “brave thinkers” in 2009 and is the winner of the 2024 Huxley Award of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Professor de Waal regularly teaches a course on Conflict in Africa at the Fletcher School, Tufts University.  During this course, students should gain a deeper understanding of the nature of contemporary violent conflict in Africa. Students will be expected to master the key theoretical approaches to violence in Africa, and to become familiar with a number of important case studies. The focus is on the origins and nature of violence, rather than policy responses and solutions. The course is inter-disciplinary and involves readings in political science, international relations, and social anthropology, while also touching on economics, environmental studies, and history. 

Stay Connected