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Awet T. Weldemichael


I am a former refugee goatherd in a remote refugee camp in Sudan. My academic work touches on colonialism, decolonization, revolutions, nationalist movements, peace, conflict and security studies relevant to Africa and Southeast Asia. More specifically, the areas of my research, teaching, mentoring and consulting interests are modern and contemporary Horn of Africa and island Southeast Asia.

I have lately been working on the political economy of conflict in the Horn of Africa and its adjoining waters. My most recent book has particularly looked at the root causes, dynamics and consequences of piracy in Somalia.

Yes, I have interviewed many pirates.

No, I do not know Johnny Depp, Barkhad Abdi, or Tom Hanks.



Selected Publications


  • Piracy in Somalia: Violence and Development in the Horn of Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2019).
  • African Liberation Theology: Intergenerational Conversations on Eritrea’s Possible Futures co-authored with Ghirmai Negash (Red Sea Press, 2018).
  • Changing Horizons of African History ed. with Anthony A. Lee and Edward A. Alpers (Africa World Press, 2016).
  • Maritime Terrorism and Piracy in the Indian Ocean Region, ed. with Patricia Schneider and Andrew C. Winner (London and New York: Routledge, 2015).
  • When Elephants Fight, the Grass Suffers: A report on the Local Consequences of Piracy in Puntland (Dalhousie Marine Piracy Project: Dalhousie University Marine Affairs Program Technical Report #12, 2014):
  • Third World Colonialism and Strategies of Liberation: Eritrea and East Timor Compared (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

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  • “Ethio-Eritrea Peace Deal: Implications for Regional Integration,” Tana Papers and Policy Briefs (Tana Forum 2019): 4-9.
  • “The Law of the Sea and Il/Legal Fishing in Somalia,” The Nautilus IX (Spring 2018): 29-52.
  • “The Horn of Africa from the Cold War to the War on Terror” in Charles Ambler, William Worger and Nwando Achebe and (eds.), A Companion to African History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018)
  • “Ransoming in Contemporary Northeast Africa: Piracy in Puntland,” African Economic History 42 (2014) (published in May 2015), 215-237.
  • “The Eritrean Long March: The Strategic Withdrawal of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), 1978-1979,” The Journal of Military History, Vol. 73, No. 4 (October 2009), 1231-1271.
Awards and recognition
  • Winner of the 2019 International Association for the Study of Organized Crime award for the best book in the study of organized crime.
  • Member of the Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars

In the News

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.