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Erichthonius (1), Athenian hero  

Adam Rappold

Erichthonius is one of the original, legendary kings of the Athenians. In his myth, he was born directly from the soil of Attica, after Hephaestus attempted to rape Athena, but instead cast his seed upon the ground. Athena conceals the child in a basket and entrusts the child to the daughters of Cecrops with a command to never look inside. Some (or all) of the daughters disobey this command and, in response, Athena forces them to jump off of the Acropolis. This sequence of events suggests that his existence was heavily tied to aitiologies of the cults and cult buildings of the Cecropides on the Acropolis, as well as the Arrhephoria ritual, which seemingly recreates this narrative sequence. As a king, he was thought to have created the Panathenaea festival. In general, although his earth-born origin means that he is sometimes connected to the development of Athenian autochthony in the 5th century bce, he is not particularly prominent in myth or cult.

Article

Nationalism and Decolonization in the Ivory Coast  

Alfred Babo

The postcolonial history of Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) is marked by a continuum of policy-making inherited from the colonial administration and which contributed to the state’s stability and relative economic success in the 1970s in West Africa. However, government policy fluctuated in accordance with economic crises, demands for democracy, and ethnic division. Although laws aimed at normative governance, ethnic-based policy-making has been expanded to post-independence because political power in Ivorian society is still determined by ethnic loyalty. Economic distress intertwined with political ethnicity has persistently led to turmoil, from coups d’état to rebellion and civil war—in sharp contrast with the country’s earlier apparent stability, for thirty years after Independence.

Article

Citizenship Law as the Foundation for Political Participation in Africa  

Bronwen Manby

The question of membership and belonging is widely recognized to have been at the root of many political crises in Africa since independence. The legal frameworks for citizenship were largely inherited from the colonial powers and still show strong affinities across colonial legal traditions. However, most African states have enacted significant amendments to citizenship laws since independence, as they have grappled with issues of membership, aiming to include or exclude certain groups. Substantive provisions have diverged significantly in several countries from the original template. African states have shared global trends toward gender equality and acceptance of dual citizenship. In relation to acquisition of citizenship based on birth in the territory (jus soli) or based on descent (jus sanguinis), there has been less convergence. In all countries, naturalization is inaccessible to all but a few. Manipulation of citizenship law for political purposes has been common, as political opponents have at times been accused of being non-citizens as a way of excluding them from office, or groups of people have been denied recognition of citizenship as a means of disenfranchisement. Moreover, even in states where a substantial proportion of residents lack identity documents, it seems that the rules on citizenship established by law have themselves had an impact on political developments. The citizenship status of many thousands of people living in different countries across Africa remains unclear, in a context where many citizens and non-citizens lack any identity documentation that records their citizenship. The content of the law is arguably therefore less influential than in some other regions. A rapid development in identification systems and the increasing requirement to show identity documents to access services, however, is likely to increase the importance of citizenship law. In response to these challenges, the African continental institutions have developed, through standard setting and in decisions on individual cases, a continental normative framework that both borrows from and leads international law in the same field.

Article

Erechtheus  

Adam Rappold

Erechtheus was both one of the ten tribal (phyle) heroes of Athens and a mythical founding king of the city. Originally born from the very land of Attica (gēgenēs / γηγενής), his myths served as a symbol of the developing concepts of autochthony, with his birth demonstrating that the Athenians were the original inhabitants of Attica, and of nationalism, with the Athenians referring to themselves as the “sons of Erechtheus.” His most important myth, as exemplified in Euripides’ fragmentary Erechtheus, has him sacrificing one of his daughters to preserve Athens from the armies of Eumolpus. As a cult figure, in the classical era, he was associated with the Athenian worship of Athena and Poseidon, his name sometimes functioning as an epithet of Poseidon, and he had a major cult in the Erechtheum on the Acropolis. The scholarship on Erechtheus has primarily been concerned with whether or not he was originally combined with another earth-born Athenian king, Erichthonius, albeit with inconclusive results.

Article

Ethnicity in Africa  

Gabrielle Lynch

Among today’s scholars there is a near consensus that precolonial African identities were relatively fluid, permeable, overlapping, and complex; that ethnic identities are socially constructed; and that a colonial order of delineated control encouraged Africans to rethink group identities and heightened a sense of socioeconomic and political competition along ethnic lines. There is also growing consensus that ethnic identities are nevertheless the subject of ongoing (re)negotiation and that, to find resonance, the politicization of ethnicity, while instrumental in motivation and opportunistic in character, must be rooted in linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic similarities and communal experiences of marginalization, neglect, injustice, and achievement. Many scholars also emphasize how the realities of ethnically delineated political support reflect pragmatism and expectations of patronage in the context of difficult and unequal socioeconomic contexts, as well as the significance of remembered pasts and associated narratives of justice and strategies of acquisition. Such realities and discursive repertoires provide a list of grievances that elites can use to foster a sense of difference and mobilize local support bases, but that also provide nonelites with a means to question and counter intra- and intercommunal differences and thus social and spatial inequalities. Ethnic support then strengthened by a reinforcing cycle of ethnic bias and expectations of greater levels of assistance from co-ethnics. According to such arguments, ethnic identification and political support are rational, but not for the simple reasons that classic primordial, instrumental or neo-patrimonial accounts suggest.