4.03 Wolbert Smidt; Fesseha Berhe; Eloi Ficquet

Historical antropology: an assesment of ongoing research and debates

Especially during the last decade, numerous studies in historical anthropology were undertaken, resulting in a strong rise of this sub-discipline within both classical social anthropology and history. However, the diverse activities and results have never been presented together and no common reflection on the ongoing, very promising process of research and its sets of methodologies has taken place.  The first strong studies in topics related to historical anthropology date already from the mid-19th and early 20th century - to be named are for example the documentations of original oral texts in Tigrinya by Kolmodin and in Kaficho by Bieber, and of narratives and ethnographical information by the d’Abbadie brothers. Later, numerous documentations and studies were added. Philological works based on a corpus of written texts have also increasingly put their material into a concrete local historical and cultural setting – for example where “lost” ethnic groups are under scrutiny such as in works on Gafat etc.

The more classical approach of using diverse sources – from oral traditions, poems or songs to archival material – to reconstruct a historical narrative is, today, strongly amended by studies of how historical narratives construct society, and which mechanisms of preservation and creation of narratives are used by the populations or we-groups under study. There are important new works and discoveries in the field of oral historiography, documenting texts and scrutinizing them in their cultural context. In addition, new archival works help to uncover so far un-used material extremely relevant for the reconstruction of local, non-state history. Generalizing, one may say that northeastern African societies have, in different ways, developed diverse and refined ways of creation and preservation of historical traditions, which play a key-role in stabilizing cultural rules and the socio-political constitution of society. This panel encourages papers on archival sources and manuscripts, on oral sources of different kind, and on interconnections between these. They may range from topics such as political history re-discussed in a cultural context, to papers dealing with the creation and preservation of very local narratives of ethnic groups and sub-groups.


Mr ADMASU ABEBE Warfare and Defensive Dry Stone Wall Building Strategies of Medieval Omotic Society: Analysis on the Great Walls of Dawuro/Kati Halala Keela, Upper Omo Valley 
Mr FESSEHA BERHE The Dobᶜa: Sources, Ongoing Research and Debates 
Dr. FICQUET Éloi In the footsteps of a wandering king: interpreting geo- and ethno-historical information from the chronicle of Atse Iyasu I (1682-1706)
Mr FONTAINE Hugues A king without a train 
Prof. FUJIMOTO Takeshi From Frontier to Periphery: An Anthropological Analysis of Lowland Settlement Abandonment among the Malo of Southwestern Ethiopia 
Mr KEFYALEW TESEMMA SEMU Dynamics of the Cult of Sheik Hussein of Bale: Its Course and Curse of the Extremists, a Historical Perspective 
Ms. MARZAGORA Sara Fukkära and qärärto as sources of Ethiopian cultural history 
Mr. MUELLER Moritz Alexander Culture Treasure Magdala. Discussions about an Ethiopian Repatriation Case 
Dr. OBA-SMIDT Chikage History and Historical Consciousness in Oral History: An analysis of the oral history of migration of Rayyaa-Oromo 
Mr SALOLE Gerard An Ambivalent Emissary: A relook at the confessional diaries of Augusto Salimbeni 1883-1894 
Dr. SMIDT Wolbert Oral traditions and local chronicle writing: The example of Yeha in Tigray