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The Politics of Metanoia

Towards a Post-Nationalistic Political Theology in Ethiopia


Theodros A. Teklu

This book examines and critiques secular modes of self-writing in Ethiopia that put considerable emphasis on the enactment of national/ethnic identity leading to an equivocal situation wherein the ethos that binds people has been greatly eroded. Its analysis demonstrates that such modes of thought are flawed not only on the notion of the human subject, but also inappropriately position the religious or the theological. The book argues that a theological turn generates theological resources for a social horizon of hope – for the apotheosis of the bond of togetherness – which risks thinking politics in an altogether different way beyond the ethno-national logic. This, as the author argues, paves the way for the possibility of a new political subject and the reinvention of politics.
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of this discussion asserted that it was not because of the theoretical clarity but due to practices of war and inter-ethnic hostility that this notion came to be an ideal for such movements. Then, I examined the modes of self-writing against this background. We noted that such narratives of the self are held in the tension between victimhood and voluntarism, which legitimise violence. In contradiction to the narrative of Greater Ethiopia, such modes of self-writing (particularly the narrative of domination) legitimise an Ethiopian ethnic-federal polity where national self-determination is respected. Nevertheless, despite the claim that a brave-new-world was inaugurated – following the regime change in 1991 in Ethiopia – we witness new forms of ex/inclusion and the impeding of practices of freedom.

Due to the selective function of such narratives not only is the manipulations of memory at stake but the polarisation of subjectivities is also sanctioned. Producing a new culture of the self (ascesis) that institute and consolidate collective identities (fostering solidarities of the ethnos), such modes of self-writing have become the dispositifs of the day that capture Ethiopian subjects. Such alternative imaginative practices have made possible collective action through ethnic-interpellation. The federal polity has not completely transformed the old centre-periphery dialectic into centre-centre dialectic but rather regions, on which are bestowed a number of rights by the Constitution, are highly controlled from the centre (according to the principle of democratic centralism of the governing party) rendering national self-determination a simple rhetoric and the Constitution a hypocritical dogma. In...

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