Fana Gebresenbet Erda


Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences and Philosophy


Country of Origin: Ethiopia


Title of PhD Thesis

The Political Economy of Land Investments

Dispossession, Resistance and Territory-Making in Gambella, Western Ethiopia



Prof. Dr. Matthias Middell

Prof. Dereje Feyissa (Associate Professor based at AAU)



Recent literature depicts the global land rush (often called “land grabbing”) as yet another constraint to African states’ endeavor to master their territory. The state building literature argues that the contemporary international system hinders the formation of strong states in Africa: by granting sovereignty despite little empirical statehood; avoiding the stimulative role of interstate wars by fixing borders; and making African states economically dependent on global dynamics (thus hampering internal capital accumulation process). This line of argumentation is based on the bellicist literature, developed primarily from European experience, which argues that rulers extract more revenue, repress internal rivals, and build the bureaucracy and national identity in their effort to make war against external threats. In this PhD research, I examine whether the recent global rush for land has “unlocked” resources for extraction by the state, and hence brought with it the incentive to control, and project authority to, hinterlands of the African state. I will use the case of foreign owned agricultural farms in Gambella Regional State, Ethiopia and examine the de- and re-territorialization implication of agricultural foreign direct investment in sparsely populated peripheries. I hypothesize that these investments contribute to consolidating the state’s presence in the peripheries, as a result of which these hinterlands will be re-territorialised and integrated closer to the national economic and political center because of, not despite, the “land grabs”. 


Academic Career

2012 to 2016

PhD Candidate in Global and Area Studies with a special emphasis on peace and security in Africa (Global and European  Studies Institute, University of Leipzig and Institute for Peace and Security Studies of Addis Ababa University)

Since 2012

Lecturer, Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS)

2010 to 2012

Research Assistant, University for Peace, Africa Programme (UPEACE) & IPSS

2009 to 2010

Research Assistant, UPEACE

2008 to 2009

Lecturer, Haramaya University


Research Topics/Interests

  • Environmental/climate security
  • Pastoralism
  • Climate change, adaptation, mitigation
  • State building and conflict in the Horn of Africa
  • Political geography



Leroy, M and Erda, F.G. 2013 (forthcoming). Science, Facts and Fears: The Debate on Climate Change and Security. In: Ruppel, O.C., C. Roschmann and K. Ruppel-Schlichting (Eds.) Climate Change and Global Governance: International Regimes in a Changing Environment. Nomos Publishers, Germany.

Asnake Kefale and Erda, F.G. 2012. Discrepancies between traditional coping mechanisms to climate change and government intervention in South Omo, Ethiopia. In Mulugeta Gebrehiwot Berhe and Jean-Bosco Butera (Eds.) Climate change and Pastoralism: Traditional coping mechanisms and conflict in the Horn of Africa. IPSS and UPEACE. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Leroy, M. and Erda, F.G. 2011. Climate conflicts in the Horn of Africa? Conflict Trends. ACCORD, South Africa.

Erda, F.G. 2009. Climate and vegetation changes in the Sahel: The case of Darfur. In Leroy, M. (Ed.) Environment and conflict in Africa: reflections on Darfur. University for Peace- Africa programme, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.