Sabine Mohamed

Surplus people are maintained as surplus through processes that alternately and simultaneously “free” them from the land and tether them to it. (Neferti Tadiar 2013, 27)

(…) and when they disembarked. if they disembarked. when they were pushed out onto land, the kidnappers treated them like an undifferentiated mass. or a mass differentiated by market value. which was part of the violence and all of the lie.
But in another way, it was also true.
By that time they were none other than each other. (Alexis Pauline Gumbs 2018, 115)

How to mourn the passing of a feeling of belonging to a place and people in times of isolation and dispersion? How is grieving taking place when the body of the deceased is not available for rituals of passing, yet exists in its disembodiment state as an indexical sign for other unknown worlds refusing social embedding? How does one relate to the rapid material shifts in an environment (like a palimpsest built on historical layers of exclusion) when it denies a group of people a stable and common ground? To ask such questions would seem to demand we reckon with the uncanniness of contemporary infrastructural reconfigurations in a space of familiarity such as a home and a feeling of belonging?

The geographer Kathryn Yusoff (2018) showed us that geology is never neutral. While infrastructure gets often to be marked within the “political” (for example land dispossession, pipelines, telecommunication, train lines), a prior economy of power has often been neglected. Indeed, Yusoff posited that “geology (and its fossil objects) has been entwined with questions of origins, process of racialization through speciation and notions of progress, as well as being a praxis for inscribing racial logics within the material politics of extraction that constitutes lived forms of racism” (5). Yet, what are the material and economic conditions of urban transformation and forms of exclusion in city-making in the Global South—in particular in regions of the East African corridor? How can we begin to analyze the ground that residents and undocumented people stand on when they are being removed, deported, and dispossessed? i

If the ground/geology is implicated as Yusoff (2018) argued, we can understand the ground on which roads and routes are built pointing to something else and inhabiting histories of dispossession and violence themselves. Thinking with Yusoff is productive, and in this short piece, I suggest we explore the sedimentations and disembodiment of dead bodies and their contested infrastructural grounds. I do not seek to explore the afterlives of the disappeared in situations of violent political conflict, but how bodies unravel and are torn apart because they are losing ground and are overdetermined by the state and mega projects of urban reconstruction. Rather, I want to highlight how bodies come undone, and in their undoing unfold a force for new embodiments and feelings to emerge. I use the term ground here metaphorically to describe a sentiment. But do also to refer to its matter: material and bound to earth. On one hand ground describes home, sociality, and kin, the ground we share and stand on. Similarly, to lose ground is to lose such kinship. To witnessing and experience the vanishing of a neighborhood brings both forms of ground together, to lose the material and affective ground. In this piece, this framing allows us to capture also the ground of these urban infrastructures that are often entangled in house evictions and the building of new social housing complexes in the city.

That is, I situate my thoughts on disembodiment within a site of urban reconstruction in 2016 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In doing so, I propose some provisionary notes about the modes of infrastructural violence in the emergence of a “new Addis Ababa.” I focus on how dead bodies and their return from a migratory journey to the site of departure can tell us a particular story of infrastructural disembodiment, and how death itself becomes infused with an infrastructure, though one that that is in a constant state of disappearance and renewal. To do so, I will turn to the death of an Ethiopian female domestic worker in Beirut. Her name was Rahel, and the return of her dead body to Addis Ababa occurred in June 2016. Yet to fully encompass her story in terms of infrastructure and embodiment, we need to understand transoceanic territories (such as the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean) as (fluid) grounds, too. These grounds are often ignored as an aspect of sovereign entities, despite their crucial mode of circulation and connection, but also as sites of rupture/interruptions (Arıcan 2021; Dua 2019; Campling and Colás 2017). For Rahel and many other Ethiopian domestic migrants, (unofficial) labor work in the Middle East and the Golf countries would not be possible without taking the risk of crossing the Red Sea by boat. The crossover entailed as much potential connectivity as rupture in their lives.ii


Rahel was one example of many women that decide to seek work outside of Ethiopia. She had been working as a female domestic worker in Beirut up to ten years before her sudden death. According to official figures from the Ethiopian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in 2012 alone around 200,000 Ethiopian women have migrated to the Middle East.1 According to other sources the official numbers for legally employed domestic workers from Ethiopia working in the Middle East between the years of 2008 and 2013 alone oscillates between 300,000. It is estimated that the unofficial number of those that used irregular channels for their migration were at least double. Ethiopia has become one of the main sending countries of female domestic workers to the Middle East (de Regt 2010, 242). Scholars such as Adam Moe Fejerskov and Meron Zeleke (2020), Fassil Demissie (2018), Abigail Mariam (2016) and Bina Fernandez (2013) have described the rising numbers of Ethiopian female domestic workers in the Middle East and Gulf, and the vast array of personal and institutional challenges they face because of what Demissie describes as “their subordinate position in the labor market” (Demissie 2018,3). Human Rights Watch (2020; 2019; 2015), other international NGO’s and journalists such as Zecharias Zelalem (2021) have highlighted at length the manifold abuses and legal illegibility Ethiopian migrant workers are confronted with once they begin their journey as domestic workers under the abusive kafala (visa sponsorship) system in countries of the Middle East. In response to severe cases of human rights violations, disappearances/killings, and stories of systematic abuse, the Ethiopian government banned Ethiopians to work as domestic workers in the Middle East from 2013 and 2018. Yet this only limited the legal route for these young women and men to seek employment elsewhere. In the absence of official travel documentation, Ethiopian migrant workers had often to seek informal routes traveling to the Middle East (overland to Somalia and from there to the Gulf of Aden by boat or through Sudan, then Egypt and to the Middle East). This, of course has put especially female domestic workers in even more precarious legal situations with little information regarding employment rights, lack of a labor contract, and the absence of legal protection and assistance in cases of emergencies. Most of the Ethiopian domestic workers in Lebanon (and other countries in the Middle East) explain their initial departure from Ethiopia through an economic lens of aspiration and desolation. Often, they would mention a trope of someone “who made it there,” proving that one could make money in the Middle East/Gulf and return to Ethiopia successful. What remains unsaid in these explanations is the political economy in Ethiopia itself that seemingly provides no stable ground for these kinds of aspirations. For others there are familial commitments that lead them to a migratory journey. Just a year after the ban, in 2014, official numbers in personal remittances to Ethiopia were as high as 1,796 USD billion (with the top countries for remittance outflows located in the Middle East/Gulf as well as the United States). In 2020, only an estimated 504,475 USD million have been sent to Ethiopia. Numbers, however, are on the rise (Worldbank 2021). Remittances wired through unofficial channels to Ethiopia are even higher. On top of this, Ethiopia occupies a paradoxical position as being on one hand the second largest host country to migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees (an estimated 1,1 million, see UNHCR 2020), and on the other also the largest country of origin for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia’s public image has, especially since the Ethiopian millennium in 2008 onward, emphasized the remaking of the country and the heavy investment in urban and economic infrastructures. One site of transformation has been the Ethiopian capital city Addis Ababa into a “new Addis Ababa” (see e.g., Kloosterboer 2019). In my dissertation (2021) and in Biruk Terrefe’s article (2020) we have respectively explored the intricate relationship between Ethiopia’s political dynamics and aspirations that are tethered to urban megaprojects in Addis Ababa. The 2014 Addis Ababa Integrated Regional Development Plan (short: masterplan), and more broadly the political shifts in the country have blurred boundaries of territory and forms of belonging in the city. This was especially salient in urban sites that have been marked for reconstruction.

Rahel’s life was tied not only to the neighborhood, but also to the success story of the developmental state in Ethiopia. Instead of depicting her life and migration, I want to describe the ripples created by her death and troubled mortuary rituals for her bereaved kin and the wider neighborhood. On the morning of Rahel’s funeral in June 2016, I had planned to interview some of my interlocutor’s (Binyam’s) friends, who were at that time being forced to relocate to the outskirts of the city due to the masterplan’s intention of urban renewal in the center. My interlocutor, Binyam, called me and said something had happened in the neighborhood and he couldn’t do the interview on that day. I was with another interlocutor when he called, Iyasu, who was not teaching that day. He said we should go and check on Binyam as I told him that he sounded strange on the phone. Iyasu and I arrived around 9:30am in the neighborhood, and as we walked in, we saw a big white tent (dust) at the end of the main street in the neighborhood and many benches around it. A dust was a sign of mourning. If the grieving family does not have a large house, they set up a dust to accommodate funeral guests. It is usually put up in the courtyard of the bereaved family or at the street near the house of the grieving family, and stays up for up to ten days.

Next to the dust, I saw three women preparing food outside, one who I recognized, Bethlehem. The idir mahber (Amharic, Am.: a burial society: traditional self-help economic association in the community, helping out in events of a funeral) was organizing the logistics for the funeral (from talking to the priest, to organizing cars, the casket, and the cemetery, and providing cooking utensils such as big pots, food etc.). The burial was to take place in the afternoon at 3:00pm that day. Biruk, a friend of the deceased, had a little notebook where he registered the names of people contributing money for the funeral costs (that would subsequently be allocated to the idir mahber). The dust had tree sidewalls and was opened on one side, which served as a large entrance. People were sitting inside and outside the dust.

Binyam walked toward us, wearing a black hoody. He told us that a burial would take place in the afternoon. Binyam pointed to Bethlehem’s house and said that “their girl” had died. The girl who died had lived with Bethlehem. Her name was Rahel. Binyam said that Rahel had wanted to return to Addis because she knew that she was terminally ill. However, it turned out to be more difficult because she entered Lebanon as an undocumented migrant and had no savings left, and could not afford a medical repatriation. In her last weeks, she had lost her voice and most communication was done through viber or imo (a phone app), through her friends (also domestic workers in Beirut), and her brother and friends in Addis.

We sat on one of the benches for mourners. One of the attendees said that Rahel’s younger brother, the only immediate family member left, was in shock. The brother was now alone now that his sister had left. The attendee had visited the brother the evening before. He said Rahel’s brother blamed himself for her death. She had gone there and worked in Beirut to provide for him; she always sent him money. She had left for Beirut when he was still in school and wanted to support him. However, he apparently never went to school; on the day of the funeral, he was depressed and looked terribly thin.

At the funeral, I also heard guests sharing their thoughts and opinions about him. Some felt the pain and expressed their empathy for him having lost all of his immediate family members and for being alone in the world. Rahel never returned after she left at the age of twenty. The attendee sitting at the bench continued, saying that neither had ever met their father, who had died from HIV. Their mother was a commercial sex worker, and she had died from HIV too. It was after their mother died that Rahel left for Beirut. I only later learned that Rahel apparently was born HIV positive, while her brother wasn’t.

In the 1990s, this neighborhood like other neighborhoods in Addis Ababa’s city center experienced a daunting wave of deaths due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, causing an exponential rising number of orphans and a growing stigma against people living with the disease (see Woubshet 2015). Affected people in Rahel’s neighborhood, but also more broadly Ethiopians living with the disease, often felt forgotten by the government. Given that the AIDS epidemic had been a major health and social crisis since in the late 1980s, the government only recognized the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1998 and summoned a first symposium in 1999 (Woubshet 2015, 112). Officially in 1999, HIV/AIDS “had infected an estimated 3 million of Ethiopia’s 62.8 million people and killed the parents of an estimated 903,000 Ethiopian children” (Woubshet 2015, 137). Tied to Rahel, these stories of slow and silent deaths induced by respiratory failure in the 1980s and 1990s were told again.

João Biehl describes in his book Vita (2013) how zones of abandonment emerge in multiple sites in Brazil’s cities and “accelerate the death of the unwanted” (Biehl 2013, 20). He is invested in showing that this kind of death is embedded in broader structures: “In this bureaucratically and relationally sanctioned register of social death, the human, the mental, and the chemical are complicit: their entanglement expresses a common sense that authorizes the lives of some while disallowing the lives of others” (Biehl 2013, 20). Similarly, Frantz Fanon carved out a spatio-temporal space, a “zone of nonbeing,” which he described as “an extraordinarily sterile and arid region, an utterly naked declivity where an authentic upheaval can be born.” (2002 [1952], 2). For Fanon this time-space was inhabited by Black people being subjugated to the white gaze. The “zone of nonbeing” is an inhabitation that is not only dialectical, but also a mirror-image, as, for Fanon, there was no white man without the Black man. For our purpose, the temporal and spatial aspects of this kind of abjection (both in Biehl’s zones of abandonment and Fanon’s zone of nonbeing though emergent through different social forces) are of critical importance in conceptualizing the kind of zone that Rahel occupied for the funeral guests. The historical (and sedimented) erasure experienced by many funeral guests came up again and again in conversations about Rahel’s family. Their life had been impacted by the HIV/AIDS crisis. It had also prohibited a heteronormative life cycle. Queering the family history of Rahel, we encounter a genealogy of disappearance, as well as new ties of kinship, such as having Bethlehm appear as her non-related sister and having the dust put up in front of Bethlehm’s house.

Rahel had been dead for a couple of days. But depending on who I asked, I was told different numbers, ranging from six to twelve days. This already constituted a problem for many, as burials usually take place on the same day as the death for Orthodox Christian and Muslim funerals in Ethiopia. But more importantly, the question of elapsed time spurred a conflict about whether one should be opening the casket for guests to say their goodbyes in the tent. It had arrived from customs. The elders wished to open it while the youngsters insisted on keeping it closed, as they feared it would be too devastating to see her. Some who had already seen the body said it was terrifying. Nobody would want to remember her like that. Because of the long detention at customs, her body had decomposed and there was a strong smell. The coffin was not to be opened, they maintained, even as this too caused severe distress for her close friends. Two of her close female friends even fainted. Even weeks after Rahel’s funeral, her friend Bethlehem couldn’t talk about her body.

The elders feared her appearance, and that death had deformed and decomposed her corpse, making her unrecognizable, but some still wanted it to be opened because that was the way it had to be done to offer her passing. Biruk told me that usually the elders (Am.: shmagele) win any kind of argument, but this time it was decided to leave the coffin closed. The difficulties in returning her body to Addis Ababa, its abject state of decomposition, and subsequent questions about how to proceed with the mortuary rituals, reverberated out into anxieties about the fate of the neighborhood.

Provisionary Notes: Bodies, Trees, and more than Human

At another occasion two months after Rahel’s death, a friend, who I here call Tamrat, describes a different kind of foreclosed future, how young people in urban Ethiopia would rather be a transplanted as a tree in America than to remain in their surroundings.

Tamrat: Listen, Addis Ababa kids, Addis Ababa folk do not want anything from history. Let’s begin with the fact, that they wished Italy had colonized us. This is the generation.

Iyasu: because they don’t know anything about [Ethiopian] history

Binyam: You know Ethiopia should be at least a developed city [Addis Ababa becomes a placeholder for Ethiopia], even if it is not a rich city.

Tamrat: These kids [reference to the youth of the city] would rather be a tree in America than being a human in Ethiopia

Sabine: Why do they think like that? What do you mean?

Tamrat: Thinking of their country is very drowning (Am.: bahru wust gebto moto) for Addis Ababa youth

(Addis Ababa in September 2016)

For Tamrat, not only history, but the present was colonized and unbreathable. He captured the immobility of an Ethiopian youth with his claim that some preferred to be colonized than being Ethiopian. For himself “leaving” was not an option, and he felt a “generational gap” between him (in his thirties) and the younger generation. He described living in America with dwelling in a fridge: sometimes illuminated but always cold. Instead of seeking a factual truth in this claim, it was meant as a provocation, and I suggest reading this contradiction through an opening of a site of unbecoming within a globally racialized and extractive economy. Inserting a metaphor of drowning in a sea in a landlocked country also resonates with tragedies of other Ethiopians in the Mediterranean Sea and along the Indian Ocean.

I am not so much concerned here with constituting a theoretical inroad into either these types of death or urban spaces, but rather to simply capture some nuances and contradictions in a vanishing district in Addis Ababa. The cultural theorist Lauren Berlant (2011) has written extensively about the disappointments of promises in the neoliberal age, broken dreams of welfare security, and a reality of social precarity. Berlant allowed us to capture this simultaneous feeling of intimacy (for example believing in promises of the American Dream) and of alienation (denying the subject that was initially promised), inherent in the formation of a neoliberal self in a consumer driven society, what she calls “cruel optimism.” She makes clear that her work is situated in the Global North. Yet while her focus is on how a subject emerges under these cruel conditions, there is also a sense of disembodiment and deterritorialization taking place that captures the disaggregation of the body that I seek to explore here. Instead of falling into the ideological apparatus that produces a kind of “cruel optimism,” these interlocutors have used cynicism (colonialism) to frame their critique of a non-existent welfare state and ways of making do. No one is waiting in expectation of something in particular. The writer and poet Dionne Brand writes that “the body is the place of captivity” (2002, 35). In her book A Map to the Door of No Return, Brand encapsulates the longue durée of historical violence done to Black people in the diaspora as something already inscribed in the fact that leaving (transatlantic enslavement) was never voluntary. Thus, the option to “return was, and still may be, an intention, however deeply buried. There is as it says no way in; no return” (1).

So if there is no spatio-temporal return available, what happens to the forces that keep the body a place of captivity after the body disintegrates and has given in to these forces and suffocates? To return to Frantz Fanon, he described this kind of force as “atmospheric violence.” He insisted on interrogating the spatial aspect of violence that encompasses but also extends beyond the body: “But let us return to this atmospheric violence, this violence rippling under the skin. We have seen as it develops how a number of driving mechanisms pick it up and convey it to an outlet” (Fanon 1961, 31). Such embodied forms of “atmospheric violence” inhabit not only the skin, but also infrastructure, space, environment. Fanon spoke about a metamorphosis of this atmospheric violence imposed on previous moving onto other infrastructures (31). Most of these authors (above) have inscribed power to the emergence of the body and pointed to the environments creating these racialized, gendered, and classed bodies. I concur with Brand that return cannot only be framed as a physical location. I suggest return to be understood as a temporal space of speculative force.

If bodies return to the ground (such as Rahel’s), the social relations that have allowed for these kinds of unruly bodies to emerge, have to seek other outlets. In doing so, we might think through events that concern the expandability of bodies, and the infrastructure of movement without mobility in a city undergoing urban reconstruction. The critical theorist Neferti Tadiar has urged us to understand value qua human labor time in a globalized neoliberal world through the lens of temporality in order to scale differences, not only geographically, such as global South and North divide, but also temporally. Tadiar argues that neoliberalism and “financial freedoms continue to depend on the geopolitical territorial order consolidated through imperialism to both establish and police those zones of open horizon for untrammeled speculative movement, zones which are no longer merely geographical but also temporal” (Tadiar 2013, 26). That is, for Tadiar, the process of dispossession is necessary for the state “to create and maintain a population of ‘surplused’ people as monetized aggregates of disposable life” (27). While this work is not a study of neoliberalism, the lives of my interlocutors are fundamentally shaped by the shifts in economic value and transactions. With the present case of death, and the conversations that emerged around the death of Rahel, we witness the irresolvable moment of the death of the individual body and the death of the neighborhood. It is a conundrum produced through the distinctly way that value is produced under global neoliberal orderings.

While being unmade and remade, the body remains a problem that one cannot fully dissolve. In the event of death there is also a moment of return, that is the body that cannot fully dissolve. I want to highlight this uncanny return of the dead as a means to better think about expendability, extension, and the beyond of the physics of the neighborhood nor the body. Literatures centering on the Middle Passage (such as Deborah Thomas 2019; Christina Sharpe 2016; and Sylvia Wynter 2003) have emphasized how contemporary (black) life in the US and the Americas is filtered through the rupture of the violent theft of people of African descent (as property) and the plantation marking systems of racialized economies. When we depart from the transatlantic ocean and explore current movements that often occur in the Indian Ocean, we can look at how those often perceived as newer diasporas, such as Ethiopians, are making connections as well as instantiations of waiting amid rapid urbanization and racialized economies across the East African corridor. And in doing so, we cannot but see the longer historical South-South routes of trade (that Engseng Ho has so vividly described in the Graves of Tarim, 2006) often erased in an emphasis to understand Africa/Africans merely vis-à-vis Europe and the Americas.

In singling out one ethnographic vignette, we see how the death of a young woman mediated by and resonated with the social death of a neighborhood. For urban residents in Addis Ababa’s informal settlements, the state’s vision of expansion (in regard to territory and infrastructure) was implicated in acts of mourning and its impossibility. The masterplan, introduced in 2014 and recanted in 2016, and more broadly the political shifts in the country were blurring boundaries of territory and forms of belonging in the city. This was especially salient in urban sites that were marked for reconstruction.

In this piece then, I have tried to bring these two sets of events together (i.e., death and the masterplan), and attend to the invisible practices of mourning and mobility without movement (a feeling of being stuck/of loss despite migration and mobility understood as dislocation and estrangement). Beyond mere metaphor, it is important that we trace affective and experiential connections drawn between the fraught mourning of people’s passage as well as the mourning of a time to come. To do so allows us to describe how young (often female) residents relate to the vanishing of their neighborhoods, their residential dislocation, and pressure to leave and to find work elsewhere (traveling across the Red Sea/Indian Ocean), and yet being stuck on land, air and sea travel.

For my interlocutors, a dystopian future, imagining how a younger generation preferred being a plant in the US to gain value that could transgress the human condition in Ethiopia could be read as a social critique of their own displacement and the reckoning with unaccounted death. The value of work, life, and global racial configuration (a plant in America is more than a human in Ethiopia) appear in a site of phantasmatic economic reconfigurations and mega projects of infrastructure. These push people to move in and out used boundaries and come to terms with aspects of disembodiment and their expandability. Yet to explain these movements and unsettlements with surplus does not capture the affective interiority that is set in motion.    

In conclusion, one could see that in Rahel’s case, the residents and attendees of the funeral have to navigate a dilemma: one dealing with the corpse, a second embedding the death in ritual and personal memories, and indeed a third navigating a social death (the village, house evictions, new buildings, and their vanishing self/neighborhood). The disembodiment of Rahel and the fear of a foreclosed future (a tree in America) blurred lines of belonging and inscribed a feeling of disembodiment that was suffused with infrastructure. Rahel’s body and the envisioned non-human life in the US constituted a temporal deterritorialization of belonging. In both examples the “elsewhere” (Beirut and the United States), were not the harbingers of resolution as Rahel had been denied medical treatment and proper treatment as a domestic worker, but a marker of erasure and global forces that one had to reckon with. Life as a non-human existence constituted a future of bare life. Yet they were part of the shadows of the globalized racial economies that have encompassed not only how their neighborhood was being rebuilt (through Chinese investment), but also that they were fundamentally entangled in transnational ruptures and movements towards the Indian Ocean.

Themes: Counter-Scopic Regimes, Spatial Claims

Methods: Bordering, Counter-Cartography


[1]  This form of low-income migration has a vague starting point in the 1990s with Lebanon being a premier destination for Ethiopian female domestic workers. In the recent decade as Fernandez (2013) and others have described the Gulf countries in particular Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have also emerged as an important destination for Ethiopian migrants.

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Biehl, João. 2005. Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Brand, Dionne. 2002. A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging. Toronto: Doubleday Canada.

De Regt, Marina. 2010. “Ways to Come, Ways to Leave: Gender, Mobility, and Il/Legality among Ethiopian Domestic Workers in Yemen.” Gender and Society 24 (2): 237–60.

Demissie, Fassil. 2018. “Ethiopian Female Domestic Workers in the Middle East and Gulf States: An Introduction.” African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal 11 (1): 1–5.

Dua, Jatin. 2019. Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Fanon, Frantz. 1963. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press.

———. 2002. Black Skin, White Masks. Pluto Classics. London: Pluto Press.

Fejerskov, Adam Moe, and Meron Zeleke. 2020. “Ethiopian Migration and Return Migration: No Place for me Here.” Danish Institute for International Studies.

Fernandez, Bina. 2013. “Traffickers, Brokers, Employment Agents, and Social Networks: The Regulation of Intermediaries in the Migration of Ethiopian Domestic Workers to the Middle East.” The International Migration Review 47 (4): 814–43.

Gumbs, Pauline Alexis. 2018. M Archive: After the End of the World. Durham: Duke University Press.

Ho, Engseng. 2006. The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean. Berkeley: University of California Press.

“‘I Was Sold’: Abuse and Exploitation of Migrant Domestic Workers in Oman.” 2016. Human Rights Watch.

Kloosterboer, Marjan Hilde. 2019. “The ‘New’ Addis Ababa: Shantytown or Global City? An Assessment of Large-Scale Inner-City Renewal, Redevelopment and Displacement for the Construction of a ‘New’ Addis Ababa.” Glasgow: University of Glasgow.

“Lebanon: Abolish Kafala (Sponsorship) System.” 2020. Human Rights Watch.

Mariam, Abigail. 2016. “Ethiopian Diaspora Social Media Protest Mobilization: The Case of Ethiopian Migrant Workers in Saudi Arabia.” International Journal of Ethiopian Studies 10 (1 & 2): 89–124.

Mohamed, Sabine. 2021. Losing Ground: Emergent Black Empire and Counter-Futures in Urban Ethiopia. Heidelberg: Dissertation, Heidelberg University.

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[i] For more on movement, bordering, dispossession and abolition see: FROM MINNEAPOLIS TO DESSAU, FROM MORIA TO TRIPOLI, FROM THE SHORES TO THE LAND AND THE SEA: GLOBAL GEOGRAPHIES OF ABOLITION by Vanessa Eileen Thompson

[ii] Iman Nagy confronts the red sea in her piece: THE BORDERING IDENTITY OF A NORTHEAST AFRO-ARABIAN

Sabine Mohamed is currently a “Bridge to the Faculty” Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Heidelberg (2021). Her research has been supported by the Max Planck Society, the Heidelberg Graduate Academy, the Academy of African Urban Diversities, the Society for Social Studies of Science, and by the Institute for Ethiopian Studies at the Addis Ababa University. Her current book project, Losing Ground: Emergent Black Empire and Counter-Futures in Urban Ethiopia, ethnographically explores how categories of blackness and race, as well as experiences of urban and national dispossession, are attached to an infrastructure of emergent empire in East Africa. Her next project will follow female laborers through the gendered and racialized routes of economic exchange, Chinese investment, and resource extraction in the East African corridor.

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