Ribka Metaferia

Thesis title:

The Role of Ethnic and Religious Spatialities in Addis Ababa’s Urban Conflicts


Existing quantitative research suggests that armed conflicts are more likely to occur in countries where ethnic and religious identities overlap (Basedau et al., 2011). This research project probes this finding further through qualitative investigation of current tensions in Ethiopia, where most Amhara are Christian and most Oromo are Muslim. Since the dawn of ethnic federalism in the country, ethnic identities have been rendered onto territory through the establishment of ethnic regional states. An understanding of the way that individuals and groups interact with and produce space, then, is vital in resolving existing ethnic and religious inter-community tensions. This research draws from geographical epistemologies of spatiality to broaden the understanding of space in conflict studies from its current territorial base. Henri Lefebvre’s (1991) relational theory of space, which defines space as socially produced through representation and conception, forms the theoretical framework of this thesis. Addis Ababa provides the backdrop for this research, as a result of its diversity, higher rate of societal change and unique status as ethnically undefined within the ethnic federalist system. Using archival research, interviews and other qualitative methods, this project seeks to identify how individuals have negotiated space in this conflict-prone society and what the impact of such ever-changing urban spatialities is on ethnic and religious tensions in Addis Ababa.

First supervisor:

Kieran Mitton


10- International Development, Conflict & Human Security