In the early 20th century the agrarian policies of the Colonial Government in Eritrea moved from the promotion of Italian family homesteads on the highlands to the exploitation of wide semi-arid areas in the lowlands. In particular the surroundings of Tessenei, close to the Sudanese border, for its geomorphological and hydrographic features, were appropriate for a wide intensive plantation of cotton. Here in 1905 the most meaningful intervention of colonial agrarian valorisation in Eritrea was being planned, but it was realized at the end of the Twenties. Barriers, embankments, canals and drains caused then a radical change in the landscape, imposing a severe geometry over 10.000 hectares of smoothly corrugated lands around the Gash River. Production activities were mainly based on local workers: this had a dramatic impact on traditional culture and social relations, stressed by the fact that in a short while migration from Sudan and Ethiopia was encouraged. By analysing the main features of the spatial organization designed in Tessenei, an attempt to outline the relation between the colonial government and local cultural system will be made; the comprehension of this relation would be important to understand the legacies of the project and its potentialities at present.

Tessenei (1905-1941": intensive farming shaping landscape and social relations in colonial Eritrea

N. Cattaneo
2019-01-01

Abstract

In the early 20th century the agrarian policies of the Colonial Government in Eritrea moved from the promotion of Italian family homesteads on the highlands to the exploitation of wide semi-arid areas in the lowlands. In particular the surroundings of Tessenei, close to the Sudanese border, for its geomorphological and hydrographic features, were appropriate for a wide intensive plantation of cotton. Here in 1905 the most meaningful intervention of colonial agrarian valorisation in Eritrea was being planned, but it was realized at the end of the Twenties. Barriers, embankments, canals and drains caused then a radical change in the landscape, imposing a severe geometry over 10.000 hectares of smoothly corrugated lands around the Gash River. Production activities were mainly based on local workers: this had a dramatic impact on traditional culture and social relations, stressed by the fact that in a short while migration from Sudan and Ethiopia was encouraged. By analysing the main features of the spatial organization designed in Tessenei, an attempt to outline the relation between the colonial government and local cultural system will be made; the comprehension of this relation would be important to understand the legacies of the project and its potentialities at present.
Modernism, Modernisation and the Rural Landscape, Proceedings of the MODSCAPES_conference2018 & Baltic Landscape Forum
Eritrea, colonialism, agriculture
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1109835
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