chapter  11
2 Pages

WAR, SPACE AND THE LEGITIMACY OF VIOLENCE IN ERITREA

WithMichael Mahrt

This chapter concerns the spatio-political configuration of war and how it affects the moral configuration of violence and political control in the Highlands of Eritrea.1 The Highlands border Ethiopia’s northernmost province, Tigray, along the river Mereb. This region has been characterised by war for decades, although these were wars of different kinds and magnitudes. In this chapter I will focus on the two wars that define modern-day Eritrea: the liberation war against Ethiopian occupation (1961-91), which resulted in the creation of an independent State, and the more recent border war between the two countries (1998-2000). My analysis will highlight the impact of these two wars on the spatio-political configurations of violence and political control in the Highlands. I will argue that the liberation war, which was mainly a guerrilla war, was to a large extent compatible with existing conceptions of the political configuration of space and moral concepts in the Highlands. The recent border war, by contrast, posed a radical challenge to those conceptions.