4.02 Margaux Herman; Sophia Dege-Müller; Verena Krebs

Hidden agents? The role of women in Ethiopian history

This panel focuses on the role of women in the Ethiopian history, and historiography. Queens like Elēni, Mentewwab, or Taytu Betul are by now well known, but other women appear to have played a pivotal role. Sources reveal a great number of influential women challenging their male contemporaries, from female saints to queens of legend such as Gudit and, among several others, the Muslim queen Gaewa, who waged war against Solomonic rule for nearly a quarter of a century. However, the role of female agents in Ethiopian history remained largely unstudied, and ignored the vast body of sources related to women of power and influence in Ethiopian society. It is only recently that their role in Ethiopian history has been cast into sharper relief through several projects focusing on the translation, contextualization and evaluation of texts dealing with the topic concerned. The panel aims to understand how and why sources have been remembered and transmitted to the next generation, centuries after centuries, pointing out the changes and continuity of their history. Emphasis should be paid to critical source analysis may the sources be oral, material, or written, found in local or foreign accounts. We also encourage new insights and papers on the connections (inter-territorial, inter-religious or even inter-marriage) engaged by women. We welcome contributions dealing with women from all kinds of backgrounds, leaving religious boundaries as well as time limits aside. It should be clear, however, that the panel will not focus on gender topics, but presupposes that women were able, like their male counterparts, to express their leadership skills and to be involved in their nations organization at a religious, social and political level; roles that deserved to be remembered.


Dr. BÖLL Verena The Great Warriors Etege Wäld Sä’alä and Princess Enkoyye
Dr. CHEKROUN Amélie Dalwanbarah, female symbol of the Islamic power of Harar of the 16th century 
Mr DEWEL Serge A new external source highlighting the reign of ǝtege Männän Libän Amäde and the Zämanä Mäsafǝnt
Dr. HERMAN Margaux Walatta Esrā’ēl, an agent of Etēgē Mentewwab in Goğğām (Ethiopia-18th c.)
Dr. RUBINKOWSKA-ANIOŁ Hanna Empress Menen - The role of Itiegie during times of change 
Dr. SPENCER Steffan A. Matrifocal Retentions in Ethiopian Orthodox Traditions: The Holy Mother as Ark, and Makeda as Pre-figuration of Mary