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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Social Analysis
Title of proceedings Social Analysis


Since 2005, the Eritrean state has implemented a measure against the increasing desertion of conscripts: the state retaliates against deserters' families. This paper explores the fears which this measure has spread in Eritrea and it analyzes how people have interpreted its erratic enforcement. Secondly, it depicts how this measure has extended the range of fears related to Eritrean state surveillance in the countries to which deserters fled in massive numbers to seek political asylum. The retaliation has a crucial effect on "exporting" fears about the Eritrean state’s surveillance abroad and has reshaped political imagination in respect of the power of the Eritrean authoritarian state in the diaspora. I argue that emotions and imaginings about the state play a crucial role in curbing the political dissidence of new exiles, and in inspiring new fault lines in the diaspora communities that are beneficial for the current Eritrean leadership.