Citizenship, rights, and political subjectivity in Eritrea

Authored by: Kibrom Teweldebirhan , Luwam Dirar

The Routledge Handbook of African Law

Print publication date:  November  2021
Online publication date:  November  2021

Print ISBN: 9780815350682
eBook ISBN: 9781351142366
Adobe ISBN:


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Despite the growing non-legal scholarship emerging out of contemporary Eritrea, there is scant legal literature that interrogates the contemporary legal situation beyond the formal discourses of law and legality. This chapter argues that formalistic and descriptive discourses obscure Eritrea’s contemporary legal issues. It argues that the Eritrean legal landscape is more complex than it seems and to be understood, it has to be engaged with within the existing political and legal processes that define it. It is only then that one can develop a coherent understanding of the social and political relations it produces. Using this analytical framework, the chapter analyzes the discourse of citizenship and rights in Eritrea, which is a product of a live politico–legal dynamic and explains a significant part of Eritrea’s contemporary legal system. It reveals the ideological struggles that inebriate the idea of citizenship within the context of the Eritrean state and its citizens. The chapter also makes a critical contribution by highlighting the methodological problems in legal scholarship related to Eritrea, thereby inspiring a broader debate on what discourses of citizenship and rights might mean in the broader discourses of subjectivities across temporal and jurisdictional spaces within Eritrea and elsewhere.

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