The Ethiopian crisis – a historical context

eritrea and northern ethiopia

Eritrea and northern Ethiopia (1999). United States Central Intelligence Agency.


The escalation in the conflict in Ethiopia over the past year has prompted a fresh look at the historic rivalry that continues to shape and reshape Ethiopia. As a historian of modern Africa, with a particular interest in on the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, OCGH member Professor Richard Reid has published several recent articles aimed both at academics and the wider public which seek to place the recent conflict in Ethiopia in deeper historical context. See related articles below:


2020. ’Conflict between Tigray and Eritrea -- the long standing faultline in Ethiopian politics’., 30 November.

2021. ‘Dissonant Horn’. History Today: 71:2.

2021. ‘A Very Ethiopian Tragedy: Tigray, the TPLF, and Cyclical History’. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 28 January.

Forthcoming 2021: ‘Atrocity in Ethiopian History’. Journal of Genocide Research.


As well as writing for the general public and an academic audience, Professor Reid has also worked with policymakers and delivered a briefing session on ‘Eritrea and the crisis in Tigray: a short history and prognosis’ to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in April 2021.

Richard Reid is a Professor of African History at the University of Oxford and has published extensively on the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea (1998-2000), during which time he was living and working in Eritrea (see Richard Reid, Shallow Graves: A Memoir of the Ethiopia-Eritrea War, Hurst, 2020). His research focuses on the ways in which war leads to distinctive, often markedly emotional, forms of historical culture, and how it influences both public history and more private understandings of the past.