Amhara backlash: Nationalism and the 'Wolqayt question' in the Ethiopian civil war

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Since 2015, the areas known as Wolqayt-Tegedé are claimed as part of the Amhara region by activist groups. In the course of the political crisis, these groups have rallied large swathes of the Amhara urban youth to their claims, making the ‘Wolqayt question’ the symbol of Amhara nationalism since 2016. After the start of the war in November 2020, Wolqayt-Tegedé have been conquered by Amhara forces and are now administrated as part of the Amhara region – it was part of Tigray since 1991. This presentation shows how the ‘Wolqayt question’ became so central in Amhara nationalist claims, and what the mobilization owes to agrarian and land issues. It also describes how Wolqayt is currently administrated, showing the consequences of its annexion to state formation, ethnicity and violence. This research is based on several months of fieldwork in North Gonder, including more than a month in Wolqayt-Tegedé, carried out between November 2020 and July 2021.