Large scale irrigation for sugar production has been one of the pillars of the Ethiopian government recent strategy for economic growth. Drawing on and comparing ethnographic fieldwork in two sugar plantations (Beles and Tendaho) in different peripheral regions of the country, this article analyses the relation between spatial transformation, people mobilisation and authoritarian exercise of power in the name of the developmental state. Through the metaphor of the grey zone, we track the plurality and ambiguity of the trajectories of negotiation, collaboration and disillusion that materialise in these authoritarian spaces. This sheds light on the plasticity of authoritarian power, as well as on the contradictions between resources extraction and accumulation at the core of the Ethiopian developmental state, and inequity and social polarization at its margins
You can read the full article (in French) here.