A Worn Insecurity: Textiles‚ Industrialization and Colonial Rule in Eritrea During the Long Twentieth Century

  • Steven Serels
Part of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies book series (IOWS)


At the end of the nineteenth century, the Eritrean textile industry collapsed as people discontinued cultivating and weaving cotton, and adopted European-manufactured fabric. This transformation resulted not from global trade, but from regional events. A devastating famine in 1887, followed by changing political conditions, prevented the recovery of the local textile industry, which was further suppressed by successive Italian, British and Ethiopian rule. Eritrea’s textile-driven industrial boom in the 1950s and 1960s ultimately failed, further destabilizing the economy and exacerbating tensions between the Ethiopian rulers of Eritrea and nationalist rebels. As part of the decades-long war for Eritrean independence, the Ethiopian state dismantled Eritrean textile factories. At independence in 1991, Eritrea’s extreme poverty both precluded local textile production and participation in the global textile trade.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Serels
    • 1
  1. 1.Zentrum Moderner OrientBerlinGermany

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