Mekonnen Firew is a legal scholar and postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for African Studies at Harvard University. In addition to designing and teaching a course on 'Law and Development in Contemporary Africa” at the Harvard Law School during this Fall 2016 semester, he completed two articles, both of which are currently under review for publication in peer-reviewed journals. He intends to complete and submit for publication two more research proposals during the coming year.
The first research project is about the formalization of land rights and social inequality in the rural economy and society of Ethiopia and Sub-Saharan Africa more generally. This research pursues the thesis that formalization entrenches existing social inequality along the lines of class and ethnicity. His second research project would be about property and human rights, exploring how the notion of ‘property’ in the current law and development discourse relates to social obligations of owners and rights of non-owners as well as competing social values such as equality and fairness in relation to access to, and uses of, land and natural resources.
Both research projects are related, and they derive from his doctoral dissertation. His broader goal is to explore issues of social inequality in the current discourse and practice of law and development in Sub-Saharan Africa.