Nicole Hirt

“Dreams Don’t Come True in Eritrea”: Anomie and Family Disintegration due to the Structural Militarization of Society

GIGA Working Paper, No. 119, January 2010

Abstract
This article analyzes contemporary Eritrea’s acute crisis within the framework of the theory of anomie. It is based on the hypothesis that militarization, forced labor, mass exodus, and family disintegration can be interpreted as the consequences of two incompatible norm and value systems: the collectivist, nationalistic, and militaristic worldview of the former liberation front and ruling party People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), and the traditional cultural system of Eritrea’s society. In 2002 the regime introduced an unlimited "development campaign," thereby forcing large parts of the society to live as conscripts and perform unpaid labor. This has caused a mass exodus of young people and a rapid process of family disintegration. The article is based on empirical fieldwork and evaluates the ongoing developments, which have led to rapid economic decline and the destabilization of the entire fabric of society.

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Dr. Nicole Hirt is a political scientist and research fellow at the GIGA Institute for African Affairs. Her research focuses on politics and society in the Horn of Africa, migration, transnationalism, and diaspora studies. Her current research project “Do Diasporas Contribute to the Persistence of Authoritarian Rule? Responses of Eritrean Citizens Abroad to Transnational Governance” deals with the stabilisation of authoritarian regimes through transnational power structures. She is also a participant in the project “Comparing Crises”.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Nicole Hirt

Djibouti

in: Victor Adetula / Benedikt Kamski / Andreas Mehler / Henning Melber (eds.), Africa Yearbook Volume 15: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2018, Brill, forthcoming

Nicole Hirt

Eritrea

in: Victor Adetula / Benedikt Kamski / Andreas Mehler / Henning Melber (eds.), Africa Yearbook Volume 15: Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2018, Brill, forthcoming

Nicole Hirt

Zwischen Selbstfindung und Krieg: Die Entwicklung der ehemaligen "Brothers in Arms" Äthiopien und Eritrea

in: Zentrum für Militärgeschichte und Sozialwissenschaften der Bundeswehr (ed.), Wegweiser zur Geschichte. Horn von Afrika, ZMSBw, forthcoming, 65-78

Nicole Hirt

Äthiopiens Regionale Beziehungen: Zwischen Hegemoniestreben und dem Wunsch nach Stabilität

Aus Politik und Bildung (APuZ), 70, 2020, 18-19, 39-44