6.03 Eloi Ficquet; Stéphane Ancel

Administrating places of worship in Ethiopia: Legal frameworks and practical management procedures for religious assets

This panel proposes to study and compare historical and contemporary cases in Ethiopia and in the Horn of Africa that involve specific practices of management and administration by religious organizations. Through which procedures do religions assert and defend their positions and interests within a given legal framework?  In particular, how do they gather and control their resources, the most critical of which being land. The acquisition of plots of land and the construction of places of worship are the most obvious manifestations of their financial capacity and the role they are recognized or tolerated in the society. In a historical perspective, in the wake of the works of late Prof. Crummey, a number of studies have elucidated the practices of estate administration by church institutions, especially the rules attached to the "rim" land tenure. New sources and new approaches on this topic are being carried out, as well as on the uses of "waqf" assets in Muslim areas. In the contemporary secular setting of decentralization and separation of state and religions, for Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, Muslims, Protestants, or Traditional Religionists, there have been strong debates over the legal status of religious communities, their registration, their official representative bodies, and their rights to follow certain requirements or customs. Moreover, in a context of religious pluralism, competition for maximizing the audience can exacerbate tensions that eventually put at test the legal regulation devices.  In a number of situations, rights are held locally by established religious institutions that may conflict with the formalization of legal frameworks and involve particular arrangements for the implementation of economic development projects. Most of these issues can be observed through the management of land and buildings owned or used by religious communities. Administrative procedures such as construction permits exemplify the relations between each community and the authorities. The geographical situation and the architectural design of places of worship are visible signs of the positioning of religious communities in the public space and its expressive capacity for action, investment and mobilization. Furthermore, the management of religious estate can reveal strong influence of external actors, whether international missionary organizations or diaspora communities abroad.

Dr. & Dr. ANCEL Stéphane & Éloi FICQUET The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church outside Ethiopia : comparing the cases of Jerusalem and Washington
Ms, HUMMEL Susanne Foundation myths: the case of Däbrä Wärq and Märṭulä Maryam in Eastern Goğğam 
Dr. MARCUS Cressida Gondarine churches: the palimpsest of royal churches that dominate the cityscape