Overlapping nationalist projects and contested spaces
Over the past few decades the inhabitants of the Oromo?Somali borderlands of southern Ethiopia have encountered three competing nationalisms: Ethiopian state nationalism (patriotism), Somali ethno-nationalism (irredentism), and Oromo ethno-nationalism. The territories and peoples claimed by each competing nationalism overlap. In the 1960s and 1970s Somali irredentist claims predominated, and generated a severe Ethiopian response. In the post-1991 period, claims and counter-claims over territories around the borders of the Oromia and Somali ethno-national regional states of Ethiopia became the centre of conflicts. These claims specifically contest water points, tracts of land, ritual sites and towns. The ethno-territorial contestation and negotiation between the Oromia and Somali ethno-national regional states are mirrored and explained at the local level by disputes and conflicts between the Borana and Garri pastoralists, who have reformulated their longstanding competitions over pastoral resources along the new political dispensation. This article examines the multifaceted interactions between state patriotism, ethno-nationalisms, irredentism and ethno-federalism in these borderlands from the 1960s to the present.