In Between Nations: Ethiopian-Born Eritreans, Liminality, and War



In 1998, seven years after Eritrea's independence from Ethiopia, renewed war between the two countries created rigid borders where fluid boundaries previously existed. This border making was not only an attempt to physically delineate the border between the two countries but was also a symbolic process that attempted to definitively differentiate Ethiopian from Eritrean. However, alternative nationalisms were formed in the spaces that lay in between the two nations by people who inhabited those spaces. The national identities of Eritreans born in Ethiopia, known as Amiches, ran counter to state-produced forms of nationalism in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. Amiches defined their understanding of belonging by imagining attachments to two different national spaces. In this article, I use the concept of liminality to explore the dangers that Amiches experienced when confronted with this border-making process and the sense of community that emerged from their liminal state.