Smith argues that citizenship creation and expansion is a pivotal part of political contestation in Africa today. Citizenship is a powerful analytical tool to approach political life in contemporary Africa because the institutional and structural reforms of the past two decades have been inextricably linked with the battle over the 'right to have rights'. Professor Lahra Smith's work advances the notion of meaningful citizenship, referring to the ways in which rights are exercised, or the effective practice of citizenship. Using data from Ethiopia and developing a historically informed study of language policy, ethnicity and gender identities, Smith analyzes the contestation over citizenship that engages the state, social movements and individuals in substantive ways. By combining original data on language policy in contemporary Ethiopia with detailed historical study and a focus on ethnicity, citizenship and gender, this work brings a fresh approach to Ethiopian political development and contemporary citizenship concerns across Africa.
Lahra Smith is Assistant Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She has written extensively on ethnic identity, elections and political reform, and gender and politics in Africa. Her research has been published in The Journal of Modern African Studies, Democratization and policy briefs for organizations such as the United States Institute of Peace. She has received grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Fulbright-Hays program. In 2010 she was the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Ethnicity and Multicultural Citizenship at Queen's University, Canada. She has also worked for USAID in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Introduction; Part I. The Challenge: Unequal Citizenship: 1. Comparative perspectives on citizen-creation in Africa; 2. The historical context for modern Ethiopian citizenship; Part II. The Response: The State and Its Citizens: 3. Popular responses to unequal citizenship; 4. A referendum on ethnic identity and the claims of citizenship; 5. No going back on self-determination for the Oromo; 6. Ethiopian women and citizenship rights deferred; Conclusion.