Use the "back" button of your browser to return to the list of abstracts.
INTERPRETING ETHIOPIA AS A RELATIONAL AND POROUS CULTURAL SPACE: DONALD LEVINE’S GREATER ETHIOPIA RECONSIDERED [Abstract ID: 0513-13]
With ethno-nationalist narratives standing out as the dominant modes of interpreting Ethiopia, there is something of a propensity to orient historical/cultural-political reflection away from any motivating concern for convergent histories and cultural integration. Contra this trend, there seems to be already a cultural exigency in Ethiopia that demands reflection on the historical interaction of different people groups of Ethiopia. In this article, I wish to draw attention to Donald Levine’s underappreciated interpretation of Ethiopia as a “relational network” (i.e., interpersonal, economic, social and political exchanges) and a “culture area” (e.g., common ethos and worldviews), which attest the existence of pan-Ethiopian traits. Based on Levine’s account and drawing on historical resources that would enrich and complement his sociological account, I argue that the existence of such traits suggest that there are still frontiers of commonalty to be explored. In this light, I will contend that contemporary cultural and political visions that foster an interpretation of Ethiopia as an aggregation of neatly defined and non-porous self-enclosed ethnic groups are flawed. Such misguided conceptions emanates from overlooking the various modes of dynamic social interactions that made possible the integration of Ethiopians across ethnic and religious divides, and the assumption that the commonly held ethos of togetherness is merely a modern political construct. Finally, I will conclude by drawing some considerations pertinent to social cohesion.