The European Colonial Experience, c.1890–c.1950
This chapter explores the nature and significance of the period of European colonial rule in the region, encompassing the Italian administration of Eritrea and Somalia, and the British Military Administration in Eritrea. The tangible impact of European colonialism is examined, notably in terms of the hardening of perceived divisions and increasingly militarized identities; of particular importance is the impact of Italian rule in Eritrea in exacerbating extant ‘trans-Mereb’ patterns of violence and resistance, and creating certain new ones. Equally, the role of the British Military Administration (BMA) was important in creating conditions whereby identities might be more forcefully articulated than had been the case previously. Yet in many respects European colonial rule was co-opted into extant patterns of regional conflict. Alongside the shifta insurgency in Eritrea in the 1940s and the emergence of competing nationalisms, pro-independence and unionist, there is also discussion of the Somali ‘question’, and in particular of the Ogaden.
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