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ON THE QUESTION OF PRE-19TH CENTURY MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE IN ETHIOPIA: THE INDIAN OCEAN CONNECTION [Abstract ID: 0511-04]
In the past few decades, scholars have acknowledged the importance of the Indian Ocean (IO) as a geographical space of intense interaction that gave birth to the first global economy. For Africa historians, the study of the interactions in the IO has increasingly become an analytical tool that helps re-think the role of the continent in history and propose an alternative continental historiography. This paper is a continuation of my previous research in which my colleagues and I attempted to trace histories of medicine and healing in the IOW. In this project, we argue that medical knowledge and healing practices were among the items that were circulating in the IOW, both in the medieval/early modern period but also in the modern period. Starting with the general framework of the circulation of medical knowledge in the IOW, my paper will focus on the discussion of the medical history of Ethiopia. This example will not only highlight the historical connection of Africa with the IOW in the particular field of medicine and healing. By looking into documented Ethiopian traditional medical practices, this paper will not only demonstrate Ethiopia’s IO connection in this field, but also of underline the importance of traditional medical practices in the medical history of the African continent.