Date of Award

5-1-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Fragano S. J. Ledgister

Second Advisor

Dr. Hashim Gibrill

Third Advisor

Dr. Kasahun Woldemariam

Abstract

This study addresses the transnational political relationship of the Ethiopian Diaspora in the United States with the homeland, Ethiopia, since the 1990s. It does so by investigating what the motivating factors and the methods of political participation are, if any. To this end, a four-part bilingual (Amharic/English) online and hard copy survey with open and close-ended questions was used. Over 300 members of the Ethiopian Diaspora in the United States completed the survey, which is the basis of the observations made in the dissertation. The Ethiopian Diaspora is considered to be a newer Diaspora; however, the number of Ethiopians living abroad has significantly increased since the 1970s. The research confirms these Ethiopians demonstrate their affinity and connection to the homeland through social cultural events such as sporting events, attending religious services, concerts and festivals, and even by traveling frequently to Ethiopia, thus celebrating their connection to the homeland.

The research also shows that although Ethiopians have a very strong interest in seeing a better Ethiopia, a majority do not seem to be motivated enough to participate in transnational political activities. This is due to their mistrust of the political leadership and the absence of the lack of a democratic culture within the Ethiopian Diaspora. The few that are motivated to participate are focused more on peripheral activities or methods of political participation.

According to the findings of this research, factors such as class, gender, age, immigration generation, and education are not central in determining the individual political participation of the respondents. Most of the respondents are also opposed to an armed struggle and believe in peaceful methods of struggle to bring meaningful change in the Ethiopian political system.

Although the legal and political framework in the United States is conducive for political activism, power struggle and internal disunity have contributed to the minimal level of engagement of the Ethiopian Diaspora. The Diaspora has a huge potential and capacity to become an important transnational force and a catalyst for change. Future research may shed light on how to mobilize this untapped force.

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