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Arms for the Horn
U.S. Security Policy in Ethiopia and Somalia, 1953–1991
Jeffrey A. Lefebvre
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992

Using a great power-small power theoretical approach and advancing a supplier-recipient barganing model, Jeffery Lefebvre attempts to explain what the United States has paid for its relations with two weak and vulnerable arms recipients in the Horn of Africa.

Through massive documentation and extensive interviewing, Lefebvre sorts through the confusions and shifts of the United States’ post-World War II relations with Ethiopia and Somalia, two primary antagonists in the Horn of Africa.  He consulted State Department, Pentagon, and AID officials, congressional staffers, current and former ambassadors, and Ethiopian and Somali government advisers.

The story of U.S. arms transfers to northeast Africa is tangled and complex.  In 1953, 1960, and 1964-66, the United States entered into various arms provision deals with Ethiopia, spurred by the Soviet-sponsored buildup in the region.  Policy changed in the 1970s: Nixon refused a large aid request in 1973, and in 1977 Carter ended Ethiopia’s military aid on human rights grounds and denied aid to Somalia during the 1977-78 Ogaden War.  Reversing this policy, the Reagan administration extended military aid to Somalia despite its aggressive moves against Ethiopia.  Changes in U.S. relations and the revolution in Somalia have altered the picture once more.

Jeffery Lefebvre concludes that U.S. diplomacy in northeast Africa has been overly influenced by a cold war mentality.  In their obsession with countering Soviet pressure in the Third World, Washington decision makers exposed U.S. interests to unnecessary risks and given far too much for value received during four decades of vacillating and misguided foreign policy.

Arms for the Horn should interest all concerned with arms transfer issues and security studies, as well as specialist in Africa and the Middle East.


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Bastions of the Cross
Medieval Rock-Cut Cruciform Churches of Tigray, Ethiopia
Mikael Muehlbauer
Harvard University Press
In the late eleventh century, Ethiopian masons hewed great cruciform churches out of mountains in the eastern highlands of Tigray, Ethiopia’s northernmost province. Hitherto unparalleled in scale, these monuments were royal foundations, instruments of political centralization and re-Christianization that anticipated the great thirteenth century churches at Lalibela. Bastions of the Cross, the first study devoted to the subject, examines the cruciform churches of Abreha wa-Atsbeha, Wuqro Cherqos, and Mika’el Amba and connects them to one of the great architectural movements of the Middle Ages: the millennial revival of the early Byzantine aisled, cruciform church. These were also the first to incorporate vaulting, and uniquely did so in the service of centralized spatial hierarchy. Through resuscitated pilgrimage networks, Ethiopian craftsmen revisited architectural types abandoned since Late Antiquity, while Islamic mercantile channels brought precious textiles from South Asia that inspired trans-material conceptions of architectural space. Bastions of the Cross reveals the eleventh century, in contrast to its popular reputation as a “dark age,” to be a forgotten watershed in the architectural history of Ethiopia and Eastern Christianity.

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The Battle of Adwa
African Victory in the Age of Empire
Raymond Jonas
Harvard University Press, 2011

In March 1896 a well-disciplined and massive Ethiopian army did the unthinkable-it routed an invading Italian force and brought Italy's war of conquest in Africa to an end. In an age of relentless European expansion, Ethiopia had successfully defended its independence and cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age-that sooner or later all Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans. This event opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the continent's painful struggle for freedom from colonial rule.

Raymond Jonas offers the first comprehensive account of this singular episode in modern world history. The narrative is peopled by the ambitious and vain, the creative and the coarse, across Africa, Europe, and the Americas-personalities like Menelik, a biblically inspired provincial monarch who consolidated Ethiopia's throne; Taytu, his quick-witted and aggressive wife; and the Swiss engineer Alfred Ilg, the emperor's close advisor. The Ethiopians' brilliant gamesmanship and savvy public relations campaign helped roll back the Europeanization of Africa.

Figures throughout the African diaspora immediately grasped the significance of Adwa, Menelik, and an independent Ethiopia. Writing deftly from a transnational perspective, Jonas puts Adwa in the context of manifest destiny and Jim Crow, signaling a challenge to the very concept of white dominance. By reopening seemingly settled questions of race and empire, the Battle of Adwa was thus a harbinger of the global, unsettled century about to unfold.


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Beyond Surgery
Injury, Healing, and Religion at an Ethiopian Hospital
Anita Hannig
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Over the past few decades, maternal childbirth injuries have become a potent symbol of Western biomedical intervention in Africa, affecting over one million women across the global south. Western-funded hospitals have sprung up, offering surgical sutures that ostensibly allow women who suffer from obstetric fistula to return to their communities in full health. Journalists, NGO staff, celebrities, and some physicians have crafted a stock narrative around this injury, depicting afflicted women as victims of a backward culture who have their fortunes dramatically reversed by Western aid. With Beyond Surgery, medical anthropologist Anita Hannig unsettles this picture for the first time and reveals the complicated truth behind the idea of biomedical intervention as quick-fix salvation.
Through her in-depth ethnography of two repair and rehabilitation centers operating in Ethiopia, Hannig takes the reader deep into a world inside hospital walls, where women recount stories of loss and belonging, shame and delight. As she chronicles the lived experiences of fistula patients in clinical treatment, Hannig explores the danger of labeling “culture” the culprit, showing how this common argument ignores the larger problem of insufficient medical access in rural Africa. Beyond Surgery portrays the complex social outcomes of surgery in an effort to deepen our understanding of medical missions in Africa, expose cultural biases, and clear the path toward more effective ways of delivering care to those who need it most.

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Blue Daughter of the Red Sea
A Memoir
Meti Birabiro
University of Wisconsin Press, 2004

    Born into a life of constant financial, physical, and moral threat, Meti Birabiro takes refuge in literature and the fantastic. Blue Daughter of the Red Sea is Birabiro’s poetic account of the harsh reality of her young life spread across three continents. Her voice is a fresh mélange of child and adult perspectives, at once brutally honest and wise beyond her years. Through her journey from Ethiopia to Italy and finally to the United States, we encounter Birabiro’s relatives, friends, and enemies—relationships so intense that these people become her vampires, devils, angels, and saints. These characterizations always lead her back to the truth, helping her to decipher what is fair and good, to understand what she must cherish and what she must rage against.


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The Boundaries of Ancient Trade
Kings, Commoners, and the Aksumite Salt Trade of Ethiopia
Helina Solomon Woldekiros
University Press of Colorado, 2023
Drawing on rich ethnographic data as well as archaeological evidence, The Boundaries of Ancient Trade challenges long-standing conceptions of highly centralized sociopolitical and economic organization and trade along the Afar salt trail—one of the last economically significant caravan-based
trade routes in the world.
For thousands of years, farmers in the Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions of Ethiopia and Eritrea have run caravans of nearly 250,000 people and pack animals annually along an eighty-mile route through both cold, high-altitude farmlands and some of the hottest volcanic desert terrain on earth. In her fieldwork, archaeologist Helina Solomon Woldekiros followed the route with her own donkey and camel caravan, observing and interviewing over 150 Arho (caravaners), salt miners, salt cutters, warehouse owners, brokers, shop owners, and salt village residents to model the political economy of the ancient Aksumite state. The first integrated ethnoarchaeological and archaeological research on this legendary route, this volume provides evidence that informal economies and local participation have played a critical role in regional trade and, ultimately, in maintaining the considerable power of the Aksumite state. Woldekiros also contributes new insights into the logistics of pack animal–based trade and variability in the central and regional organization of global ancient trade.
Using a culturally informed framework for understanding the organization of the ancient salt route and its role in linking the Aksumite state to rural highland agricultural and lowland mobile pastoralist populations, The Boundaries of Ancient Trade makes a key contribution to theoretical discussions of hierarchy and more diffuse power structures in ancient states. This work generates new interest in the region as an area of global relevance in archaeological and anthropological debates on landscape, social interaction, and practice theories.

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Children of Hope
The Odyssey of the Oromo Slaves from Ethiopia to South Africa
Sandra Rowoldt Shell
Ohio University Press, 2018
In Children of Hope, Sandra Rowoldt Shell traces the lives of sixty-four Oromo children who were enslaved in Ethiopia in the late-nineteenth century, liberated by the British navy, and ultimately sent to Lovedale Institution, a Free Church of Scotland mission in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, for their safety. Because Scottish missionaries in Yemen interviewed each of the Oromo children shortly after their liberation, we have sixty-four structured life histories told by the children themselves. In the historiography of slavery and the slave trade, first passage narratives are rare, groups of such narratives even more so. In this analytical group biography (or prosopography), Shell renders the experiences of the captives in detail and context that are all the more affecting for their dispassionate presentation. Comparing the children by gender, age, place of origin, method of capture, identity, and other characteristics, Shell enables new insights unlike anything in the existing literature for this region and period. Children of Hope is supplemented by graphs, maps, and illustrations that carefully detail the demographic and geographic layers of the children’s origins and lives after capture. In this way, Shell honors the individual stories of each child while also placing them into invaluable and multifaceted contexts.

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The History and Politics of Film in the Horn of Africa
Michael W. Thomas
Michigan State University Press, 2018
Over the past decade, Ethiopian films have come to dominate the screening schedules of the many cinemas in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, as well as other urban centers. Despite undergoing an unprecedented surge in production and popularity in Ethiopia and in the diaspora, this phenomenon has been broadly overlooked by African film and media scholars and Ethiopianists alike. This collection of essays and interviews on cinema in Ethiopia represents the first work of its kind and establishes a broad foundation for furthering research on this topic. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to the topic and bringing together contributions from both Ethiopian and international scholars, the collection offers new and alternative narratives for the development of screen media in Africa. The book’s relevance reaches far beyond its specific locale of Ethiopia as contributions focus on a broad range of topics—such as commercial and genre films, diaspora filmmaking, and the role of women in the film industry—while simultaneously discussing multiple forms of screen media, from satellite TV to “video films.” Bringing both historical and contemporary moments of cinema in Ethiopia into the critical frame offers alternative considerations for the already radically changing critical paradigm surrounding the understandings of African cinema.

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Coffee Atlas of Ethiopia
Aaron Davis et al.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2018
In Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee drinking, coffee is more than a bean or a beverage—it’s an entire world. This atlas of Ethiopian coffee features the central elements of coffee production in Ethiopia, from detailed studies of the coffee plant to a large-scale view of its cultivation across Ethiopia. The book provides maps not only of the forests and farms where the bean grows, but the transportation networks that bring this coveted crop to the world. With single-origin coffees on the rise, this book will be a fascinating read to coffee geeks and industry insiders alike.

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The Edible Gardens of Ethiopia
An Ethnographic Journey into Beauty and Hunger
Valentina Peveri
University of Arizona Press, 2020
What is a beautiful garden to southern Ethiopian farmers? Anchored in the author’s perceptual approach to the people, plants, land, and food, The Edible Gardens of Ethiopia opens a window into the simple beauty and ecological vitality of an ensete garden.

The ensete plant is only one among the many “unloved” crops that are marginalized and pushed close to disappearance by the advance of farming modernization and monocultural thinking. And yet its human companions, caught in a symbiotic and sensuous dialogue with the plant, still relate to each exemplar as having individual appearance, sensibility, charisma, and taste, as an epiphany of beauty and prosperity, and even believe that the plant can feel pain. Here a different story is recounted of these human-plant communities, one of reciprocal love at times practiced in an act of secrecy. The plot unfolds from the subversive and tasteful dimensions of gardening for subsistence and cooking in the garden of ensete through reflections on the cultural and edible dimensions of biodiversity to embrace hunger and beauty as absorbing aesthetic experiences in small-scale agriculture. Through this story, the reader will enter the material and spiritual world of ensete and contemplate it as a modest yet inspiring example of hope in rapidly deteriorating landscapes.

Based on prolonged engagement with this “virtuous” plant of southwestern Ethiopia, this book provides a nuanced reading of the ensete ventricosum (avant-)garden and explores how the life in tiny, diverse, and womanly plots offers alternative visions of nature, food policy, and conservation efforts.

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Emperor Haile Selassie
Bereket Habte Selassie
Ohio University Press, 2014

Emperor Haile Selassie was an iconic figure of the twentieth century, a progressive monarch who ruled Ethiopia from 1916 to 1974. This book, written by a former state official who served in a number of important positions in Selassie’s government, tells both the story of the emperor’s life and the story of modern Ethiopia.

After a struggle for the throne in 1916, the young Selassie emerged first as regent and then as supreme leader of Ethiopia. Over the course of his nearly six-decade rule, the emperor abolished slavery, introduced constitutional reform, and expanded educational opportunity. The Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s led to a five-year exile in England, from which he returned in time to lead his country through World War II. Selassie was also instrumental in the founding of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, but he fell short of the ultimate goal of a promised democracy in Ethiopia. The corruption that grew under his absolute rule, as well as his seeming indifference to the famine that gripped Ethiopia in the 1970s, led finally to his overthrow by the armed forces that he had created.

Haile Selassie was an enlightened monarch in many ways, but also a man with flaws like any other. This short biography is a sensitive portrayal of Selassie as both emperor and man, by one who knew him well.


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The Emperor's Clothes
A Personal Viewpoint of Politics and Administration in the Imperial Ethiopian Government, 1941-1974
Gaitachew Bekele
Michigan State University Press, 1993

 . . . An engaging personal account of a public service career n the period leading to the 1974 revolution. It ...persuades and provides real insight into the genuine noblesse oblige of the first generation of technocrats drawn from the social elite of the post- war period.
-James McCann, Boston University


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The Ethiopian Army
From Victory to Collapse, 1977-1991
Fantahun Ayele
Northwestern University Press, 2014

The Ethiopian popular revolution of 1974 ended a monarchy that claimed descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and brought to power a military government that created one of the largest and best-equipped armies in Africa. In his panoramic study of the Ethiopian army, Fantahun Ayele draws upon his unprecedented access to Ethiopian Ministry of Defense archives to study the institution that was able to repel the Somali invasion of 1977 and suppress internal uprisings, but collapsed in 1991 under the combined onslaught of armed insurgencies in Eritrea and Tigray. Besides military operations, The Ethiopian Army discusses tactical areas such as training, equipment, intelligence, and logistics, as well as grand strategic choices such as ending the 1953 Ethio-American Mutual Defense Agreement and signing a treaty of military assistance with the Soviet Union. The result sheds considerable light on the military developments that have shaped Ethiopia and the Horn in the twentieth century.


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Ethnic Federalism
The Ethiopian Experience in Comparative Perspective
David Turton
Ohio University Press, 2006

Since 1991, Ethiopia has gone further than any other country in using ethnicity as the fundamental organizing principle of a federal system of government. And yet this pioneering experiment in “ethnic federalism” has been largely ignored in the growing literature on democratization and ethnicity in Africa and on the accommodation of ethnic diversity in democratic states. Ethnic Federalism brings a much-needed comparative dimension to the discussion of this experiment in Ethiopia.

Ethnic Federalism closely examines aspects of the Ethiopean case and asks why the use of territorial decentralism to accommodate ethnic differences has been generally unpopular in Africa, while it is growing in popularity in the West.

The book includes case studies of Nigerian and Indian federalism and suggests how Ethiopia might learn from both the failures and successes of these older federations. In the light of these broader issues and cases, it identifies the main challenges facing Ethiopia in the next few years, as it struggles to bring political practice into line with constitutional theory and thereby achieve a genuinely federal division of powers.


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Farming and Famine
Landscape Vulnerability in Northeast Ethiopia, 1889–1991
Donald E. Crummey; Edited by James C. McCann
University of Wisconsin Press, 2018
In modern times, Ethiopia has suffered three grievous famines, two of which—in 1973–74 and in 1984–85—caught the world's attention. It is often assumed that population increase drove Ethiopia's farmers to overexploit their environment and thus undermine the future of their own livelihoods, part of a larger global process of deforestation. In Farming and Famine, Donald E. Crummey explores and refutes these claims based on his research in Wallo province, an epicenter of both famines.

Crummey draws on photographs comparing identical landscapes in 1937 and 1997 as well as interviews with local farmers, among other sources. He reveals that forestation actually increased due to farmers' tree-planting initiatives. More broadly, he shows that, in the face of growing environmental stress, Ethiopian farmers have innovated and adapted. Yet the threat of famine remains because of constricted access to resources and erratic rainfall. To avoid future famines, Crummey suggests, Ethiopia's farmers must transform agricultural productivity, but they cannot achieve that on their own.

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Greater Ethiopia
The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society
Donald N. Levine
University of Chicago Press, 2000
Greater Ethiopia combines history, anthropology, and sociology to answer two major questions. Why did Ethiopia remain independent under the onslaught of European expansionism while other African political entities were colonized? And why must Ethiopia be considered a single cultural region despite its political, religious, and linguistic diversity?

Donald Levine's interdisciplinary study makes a substantial contribution both to Ethiopian interpretive history and to sociological analysis. In his new preface, Levine examines Ethiopia since the overthrow of the monarchy in the 1970s.

"Ethiopian scholarship is in Professor Levine's debt. . . . He has performed an important task with panache, urbanity, and learning."—Edward Ullendorff, Times Literary Supplement

"Upon rereading this book, it strikes the reader how broad in scope, how innovative in approach, and how stimulating in arguments this book was when it came out. . . . In the past twenty years it has inspired anthropological and historical research, stimulated theoretical debate about Ethiopia's cultural and historical development, and given the impetus to modern political thinking about the complexities and challenges of Ethiopia as a country. The text thus easily remains an absolute must for any Ethiopianist scholar to read and digest."-J. Abbink, Journal of Modern African Studies

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Haim Nahum
A Sephardic Chief Rabbi in Politics, 1892-1923
Esther Benbassa
University of Alabama Press, 1995
First published in French by the Presses du Centre National de la Recherche ScientiÞque in 1990, this book relates the history of Turkish Jewry during the last decades of the Ottoman empire, as told through the life and work of Haim Nahum, the Chief Rabbi of the Ottoman empire from 1909 to 1920.

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The Historical Ecology of Malaria in Ethiopia
Deposing the Spirits
James C. McCann
Ohio University Press, 2015

Malaria is an infectious disease like no other: it is a dynamic force of nature and Africa’s most deadly and debilitating malady. James C. McCann tells the story of malaria in human, narrative terms and explains the history and ecology of the disease through the science of landscape change. All malaria is local. Instead of examining the disease at global or continental scale, McCann investigates malaria’s adaptation and persistence in a single region, Ethiopia, over time and at several contrasting sites.

Malaria has evolved along with humankind and has adapted to even modern-day technological efforts to eradicate it or to control its movement. Insecticides, such as DDT, drug prophylaxis, development of experimental vaccines, and even molecular-level genetic manipulation have proven to be only temporary fixes. The failure of each stand-alone solution suggests the necessity of a comprehensive ecological understanding of malaria, its transmission, and its persistence, one that accepts its complexity and its local dynamism as fundamental features.

The story of this disease in Ethiopia includes heroes, heroines, witches, spirits—and a very clever insect—as well as the efforts of scientists in entomology, agroecology, parasitology, and epidemiology. Ethiopia is an ideal case for studying the historical human culture of illness, the dynamism of nature’s disease ecology, and its complexity within malaria.


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A History of Modern Ethiopia, 1855–1991
Second Edition
Bahru Zewde
Ohio University Press, 2002

Bounded by Sudan to the west and north, Kenya to the south, Somalia to the southeast, and Eritrea and Djibouti to the northeast, Ethiopia is a pivotal country in the geopolitics of the region. Yet it is important to understand this ancient and often splintered country in its own right.

In A History of Modern Ethiopia, Bahru Zewde, one of Ethiopia’s leading historians, provides a compact and comprehensive history of his country, particularly the last two centuries. Of importance to historians, political scientists, journalists, and Africanists alike, Bahru’s A History of Modern Ethiopia, now with additional material taking it up to the last decade, will be the preeminent overview of present-day Ethiopia.


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Hope Is Cut
Youth, Unemployment, and the Future in Urban Ethiopia
Daniel Mains
Temple University Press, 2013

How do ambitious young men grapple with an unemployment rate in urban Ethiopia hovering around fifty percent? Urban, educated, and unemployed young men have been the primary force behind the recent unrest and revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. Daniel Mains' detailed and moving ethnographic study, Hope is Cut, examines young men's struggles to retain hope for the future in the midst of economic uncertainty and cultural globalization.

Through a close ethnographic examination of young men's day-to-day lives Hope is Cut explores the construction of optimism through activities like formal schooling, the consumption of international films, and the use of khat, a mild stimulant.

Mains also provides a consideration of social theories concerning space, time, and capitalism. Young men here experience unemployment as a problem of time—they often congregate on street corners, joking that the only change in their lives is the sun rising and setting. Mains addresses these factors and the importance of reciprocity and international migration as a means of overcoming the barriers to attaining aspirations.


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Humane Development
Participation and Change Among the Sadama of Ethiopia
John H. Hamer
University of Alabama Press, 1987
Seeks to show that the Sadama are a people quite adaptable to change on their own terms
Humane Development seeks to show that the Sadama are a people quite adaptable to change on their own terms. According to their narrative history and from what is know from documents in recent times, individuals have often taken risks that have sometimes favored and at other times gone against the enhancement of their lifestyle.
Certainly people can, as the experience of the Sadama shows, effectively participate in change at the local level. They bring a vast experience to the challenge of choosing, and also a knowledge of the relationship between their environment, tools, and organization that has enabled them to survive through the millennia. When people are permitted to draw upon their heritage in making choices, they approach the changing situation with confidence. More­over, the opportunity to choose among alternatives, rather than being subjected to an externally made choice, maximizes the possibility for innovation.

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Imagining Ethiopia
Struggles for History and Identity in the Horn of Africa
Sorenson, John
Rutgers University Press, 1993
In Imagining Ethiopia, Sorenson examines Western mass media images of Ethiopia, placing them in the context of a larger discourse on the Third World. Sorenson shows how our image of Ethiopia has been developed by reporters and photographers who blamed the famine on African backwardness and ignored its historical and political causes, which include a colonial history, militarization, and the circumstances of Africa's integration into the world market.

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King of Kings
The Triumph and Tragedy of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia
Asfa-Wossen Asserate
Haus Publishing, 2015
Haile Selassie I, the last emperor of Ethiopia, was as brilliant as he was formidable. An early proponent of African unity and independence who claimed to be a descendant of King Solomon, he fought with the Allies against the Axis powers during World War II and was a messianic figure for the Jamaican Rastafarians. But the final years of his empire saw turmoil and revolution, and he was ultimately overthrown and assassinated in a communist coup.

Written by Asfa-Wossen Asserate, Haile Selassie’s grandnephew, this is the first major biography of this final “king of kings.” Asserate, who spent his childhood and adolescence in Ethiopia before fleeing the revolution of 1974, knew Selassie personally and gained intimate insights into life at the imperial court. Introducing him as a reformer and an autocrat whose personal history—with all of its upheavals, promises, and horrors—reflects in many ways the history of the twentieth century itself, Asserate uses his own experiences and painstaking research in family and public archives to achieve a colorful and even-handed portrait of the emperor.

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The Lives of Stone Tools
Crafting the Status, Skill, and Identity of Flintknappers
Kathryn Weedman Arthur
University of Arizona Press, 2018
The Lives of Stone Tools gives voice to the Indigenous Gamo lithic practitioners of southern Ethiopia. For the Gamo, their stone tools are alive, and their work in flintknapping is interwoven with status, skill, and the life histories of their stone tools.

Anthropologist Kathryn Weedman Arthur offers insights from her more than twenty years working with the Gamo. She deftly addresses historical and present-day experiences and practices, privileging the Gamo’s perspectives. Providing a rich, detailed look into the world of lithic technology, Arthur urges us to follow her into a world that recognizes Indigenous theories of material culture as valid alternatives to academic theories. In so doing, she subverts long-held Western perspectives concerning gender, skill, and lifeless status of inorganic matter.

The book offers the perspectives that, contrary to long-held Western views, stone tools are living beings with a life course, and lithic technology is a reproductive process that should ideally include both male and female participation. Only individuals of particular lineages knowledgeable in the lives of stones may work with stone technology. Knappers acquire skill and status through incremental guided instruction corresponding to their own phases of maturation. The tools’ lives parallel those of their knappers from birth (procurement), circumcision (knapping), maturation (use), seclusion (storage), and death (discardment).

Given current expectations that the Gamo’s lithic technology may disappear with the next generation, The Lives of Stone Tools is a work of vital importance and possibly one of the last contemporaneous books about a population that engages with the craft daily.

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Living with Pottery
Ethnoarchaeology among the Gamo of Southwest Ethiopia
Arthur, John W
University of Utah Press, 2006
Although plastic and metal vessels offer significant advantages and have almost universally supplanted ceramics throughout the world, pottery fragments are one of the most ubiquitous artifacts in the archaeological record.
The southwestern region of Ethiopia is one of the few places in the world where locally made pottery is still the dominant choice for everyday domestic use. The Gamo people continue to produce and use pottery for transporting water, cooking, storing, and serving. Ethnoarchaeology undertaken in a society where people still use low-fired ceramics in daily life provides a powerful framework for archaeological inferences, especially since little behavioral information exists concerning the relationship between status, wealth, and household pottery.

Based on John Arthur’s extensive fieldwork, this study sheds light on some of the puzzles common to archaeology in any region. It also helps decipher evidence of inter- and intravillage social and economic organization and offers insight on markers for pottery-producing and nonproducing villages and socioeconomic variability.

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Modernist Art in Ethiopia
Elizabeth W. Giorgis
Ohio University Press, 2019

Short-listed for the Fage & Oliver Prize for outstanding scholarly work published on Africa.

Finalist, African Studies Association Book Prize.

Finalist, ASA Bethwell A. Ogot Prize for best book in east African studies.

If modernism initially came to Africa through colonial contact, what does Ethiopia’s inimitable historical condition—its independence save for five years under Italian occupation—mean for its own modernist tradition? In Modernist Art in Ethiopia—the first book-length study of the topic—Elizabeth W. Giorgis recognizes that her home country’s supposed singularity, particularly as it pertains to its history from 1900 to the present, cannot be conceived outside the broader colonial legacy. She uses the evolution of modernist art in Ethiopia to open up the intellectual, cultural, and political histories of it in a pan-African context.

Giorgis explores the varied precedents of the country’s political and intellectual history to understand the ways in which the import and range of visual narratives were mediated across different moments, and to reveal the conditions that account for the extraordinary dynamism of the visual arts in Ethiopia. In locating its arguments at the intersection of visual culture and literary and performance studies, Modernist Art in Ethiopia details how innovations in visual art intersected with shifts in philosophical and ideological narratives of modernity. The result is profoundly innovative work—a bold intellectual, cultural, and political history of Ethiopia, with art as its centerpiece.


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Music, ritual, and Falasha history
Kay Kaufman. Shelemay
Michigan State University Press, 1989

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One People, One Blood
Ethiopian-Israelis and the Return to Judaism
Seeman, Don
Rutgers University Press, 2010
"Little by little, an egg will come to walk upon its own leg." Ethiopian-Israelis fondly quote this bit of Amharic folk wisdom, reflecting upon the slow, difficult history that allowed them to fulfill their destiny far from the Horn of Africa where they were born.

But today, along with those Ethiopians who have been recognized as Jews by the State of Israel, many who are called "Feres Mura," the descendants of Ethiopian Jews whose families converted to Christianity but have now reasserted their Jewish identity, still await full acceptance in Israel. Since the 1990s, they have sought homecoming through Israel's "Law of Return," but have been met with reticence and suspicion on a variety of fronts. One People, One Blood expertly documents this tenuous relationship and the challenges facing the Feres Mura.

Distilling more than ten years of ethnographic research, Don Seeman depicts the rich culture of the group, as well as their social and cultural vulnerability, and addresses the problems that arise when immigration officials, religious leaders, or academic scholars try to determine the legitimacy of Jewish identity or Jewish religious experience.


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People of the Plow
An Agricultural History of Ethiopia, 1800–1990
James C. McCann
University of Wisconsin Press, 1995

For more than two thousand years, Ethiopia’s ox-plow agricultural system was the most efficient and innovative in Africa, but has been afflicted in the recent past by a series of crises: famine, declining productivity, and losses in biodiversity. James C. McCann analyzes the last two hundred years of agricultural history in Ethiopia to determine whether the ox-plow agricultural system has adapted to population growth, new crops, and the challenges of a modern political economy based in urban centers.
    This agricultural history is set in the context of the larger environmental and landscape history of Ethiopia, showing how farmers have integrated crops, tools, and labor with natural cycles of rainfall and soil fertility, as well as with the social vagaries of changing political systems. McCann traces characteristic features of Ethiopian farming, such as the single-tine scratch plow, which has retained a remarkably consistent design over two millennia, and a crop repertoire that is among the most genetically diverse in the world.
    People of the Plow provides detailed documentation of Ethiopian agricultural practices since the early nineteenth century by examining travel narratives, early agricultural surveys, photographs and engravings, modern farming systems research, and the testimony of farmers themselves, collected during McCann’s five years of fieldwork. He then traces the ways those practices have evolved in the twentieth century in response to population growth, urban markets, and the presence of new technologies.


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Pioneers Of Change In Ethiopia
The Reformist Intellectuals of the Early Twentieth Century
Bahru Zewde
Ohio University Press, 2002

In this exciting new study, Bahru Zewde, one of the foremost historians of modern Ethiopia, has constructed a collective biography of a remarkable group of men and women in a formative period of their country’s history. Ethiopia’s political independence at the end of the nineteenth century put this new African state in a position to determine its own levels of engagement with the West. Ethiopians went to study in universities around the world. They returned with the skills of their education acquired in Europe and America, and at home began to lay the foundations of a new literature and political philosophy. Pioneers of Change in Ethiopia describes the role of these men and women of ideas in the social and political transformation of the young nation and later in the administration of Haile Selassie.


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Remapping Ethiopia
Socialism & After
Wendy James
Ohio University Press, 2002

Governance everywhere is concerned with spatial relationships. Modern states “map” local communities, making them legible for the purposes of control. Ethiopia has gone through several stages of “mapping” in its imperial, revolutionary, and postrevolutionary phases.

In 1986 The Southern Marches of Imperial Ethiopia, a cross-disciplinary collection edited by Don Donham and Wendy James, opened up the study of center/periphery relations in the Ethiopian empire until the fall of the monarchy in 1974. This new volume examines similar themes, taking the story forward through the major changes effected by the socialist regime from the revolution of 1974 to its overthrow in 1991, and then into the current period that has been marked by moves toward local democracy and political devolution.

Topics include the changing fortunes of new and historic towns and cities, the impact of the Mengistu regime’s policies of villagization and resettlement, local aspects of the struggle against Mengistu and its aftermath, and the fate of border regions. Special attention is given to developments since 1991: to new local institutions and forms of autonomy, the links between the international diasporas of Ethiopia and the fortunes of their home areas. The collection draws on the work of established scholars as well as a new generation of Ethiopian and international researchers in the disciplines of anthropology, political science, history, and geography.


front cover of Running to the Fire
Running to the Fire
An American Missionary Comes of Age in Revolutionary Ethiopia
Tim Bascom
University of Iowa Press, 2015
In the streets of Addis Ababa in 1977, shop-front posters illustrate Uncle Sam being strangled by an Ethiopian revolutionary, parliamentary leaders are executed, student protesters are gunned down, and Christian mission converts are targeted as imperialistic sympathizers. Into this world arrives sixteen-year-old Tim Bascom, whose missionary parents have brought their family from a small town in Kansas straight into Colonel Mengistu’s Marxist “Red Terror.” Here they plan to work alongside a tiny remnant of western missionaries who trust that God will somehow keep them safe.

Running to the Fire focuses on the turbulent year the Bascom family experienced upon traveling into revolutionary Ethiopia. The teenage Bascom finds a paradoxical exhilaration in living so close to constant danger. At boarding school in Addis Ababa, where dorm parents demand morning devotions and forbid dancing, Bascom bonds with other youth due to a shared sense of threat.  He falls in love for the first time, but the young couple is soon separated by the politics that affect all their lives. Across the country, missionaries are being held under house arrest while communist cadres seize their hospitals and schools. A friend’s father is imprisoned as a suspected CIA agent; another is killed by raiding Somalis.

Throughout, the teenaged Bascom struggles with his faith and his role within the conflict as a white American Christian missionary’s child. Reflecting back as an adult, he explores the historical, cultural, and religious contexts that led to this conflict, even though in doing so he is forced to ask himself questions that are easier left alone. Why, he wonders, did he find such strange fulfillment in being young and idealistic in the middle of what was essentially a kind of holy war?

front cover of Sing and Sing On
Sing and Sing On
Sentinel Musicians and the Making of the Ethiopian American Diaspora
Kay Kaufman Shelemay
University of Chicago Press, 2022
A sweeping history of Ethiopian musicians during and following the 1974 Ethiopian revolution.

Sing and Sing On is the first study of the forced migration of musicians out of the Horn of Africa dating from the 1974 Ethiopian revolution, a political event that overthrew one of the world’s oldest monarchies and installed a brutal military regime. Musicians were among the first to depart the region, their lives shattered by revolutionary violence, curfews, and civil war. Reconstructing the memories of forced migration, Sing and Sing On traces the challenges musicians faced amidst revolutionary violence and the critical role they played in building communities abroad.

Drawing on the recollections of dozens of musicians, Sing and Sing On details personal, cultural, and economic hardships experienced by musicians who have resettled in new locales abroad. Kay Kaufman Shelemay highlights their many artistic and social initiatives and the ways they have offered inspiration and leadership within and beyond a rapidly growing Ethiopian American diaspora. While musicians held this role as sentinels in Ethiopian culture long before the revolution began, it has taken on new meanings and contours in the Ethiopian diaspora. The book details the ongoing creativity of these musicians while exploring the attraction of return to their Ethiopian homeland over the course of decades abroad. Ultimately, Shelemay shows that musicians are uniquely positioned to serve this sentinel role as both guardians and challengers of cultural heritage.

front cover of A Song of Longing
A Song of Longing
Kay Kaufman Shelemay
University of Illinois Press, 1992
"A rich, descriptive account. . . . Shelemay presents extraordinary personal experiences that shaped her research process and make reading this text pleasurable."
-- Library Journal
"Highly recommended to generalists in music as well as to specialists interested in Ethiopia. . . . Also makes an excellent case study text for university-level courses examining fieldwork issues and conditions."
-- Notes
"Highly recommended for both undergraduate and graduate collections in ethnomusicology, anthropology, African, and Judaic studies."
-- Choice

front cover of Southern Marches of Imperial Ethiopia
Southern Marches of Imperial Ethiopia
Essays in History and Social Anthropology
Donald L. Donham
Ohio University Press, 2002

This pioneering book, first published to wide acclaim in 1986, traces the way the Ethiopian center and the peripheral regions of the country affected each other. It looks specifically at the expansion of the highland Ethiopian state into the western and southern lowlands from the 1890s up to 1974.


front cover of Under Construction
Under Construction
Technologies of Development in Urban Ethiopia
Daniel Mains
Duke University Press, 2019
Over the past decade, Ethiopia has had one of the world's fastest growing economies, largely due to its investments in infrastructure, and it is through building dams, roads, and other infrastructure that the Ethiopian state seeks to become a middle-income country by 2025. Yet most urban Ethiopians struggle to meet their daily needs and actively oppose a ruling party that they associate with corruption and mismanagement. In Under Construction Daniel Mains explores the intersection of development and governance by examining the conflicts surrounding the construction of specific infrastructural technologies: asphalt and cobblestone roads, motorcycle taxis, and hydroelectric dams. These projects serve as sites for nation building and the means for the state to assert its legitimacy. The construction process—as well as Ethiopians' experience of living with the disruption of construction zones—reveals the tension and conflict between the promise of progress and the possibility of failure. Mains demonstrates how infrastructures as both ethnographic sites and as a means of theorizing such concepts as progress, development, and the state offer a valuable contrast to accounts of African abjection and decline.

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