A Tributary Model of State Formation: Ethiopia, 1600-2015
This book discusses the political economy of African state formation, using Ethiopia as a case study. This book advances the argument that the Achilles' heel of Ethiopian, and more generally African, state formation is the chronic failure to nurture an independent economic base for hegemonic state elites in order to fully consolidate central authority. Using Fukuyama's work as a jumping off point, the book creates an overarching comparative analytical framework for modern political order anchored in the concept of tributarism, which captures the critical role of the independent peasant and trading economic base in western Asia and northeastern Africa in shaping the nature of the state and the regimes that controlled it. Second, the book develops case studies of the tributary state, focused mainly on three variants of the Ethiopian state since the 1600s: Gondar, Shewa, and Revolutionary. Finally, based on the notion of multiple equilibria generated by the permissible producer-appropriator bargains under tributarism and in-depth historical analyses of the case studies, the book presents many interesting implications for modern state-building and nation-building in Africa that goes beyond what is currently offered by the neo-patrimonial paradigm. Providing a rich theoretical background to contemporary challenges in African development, this book will be of interest to scholars of political science, economics, political economy, development economics, and African studies.