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[PANEL] 0509 POLISH ETHIOPIAN STUDIES IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT
Hanna RUBINKOWSKA-ANIOŁ, University of Warsaw, Poland
Ewa WOŁK-SORE, University of Warsaw, Poland
Hanna RUBINKOWSKA-ANIOŁ; Ewa WOŁK-SORE; Zuzanna AUGUSTYNIAK; Adam ŁUKASZEWICZ; Beata NOWACKA
The panel is dedicated to commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Stefan Strelcyn (1918-1981), the founder of the Polish school of Ethiopian studies.
The organizers aim to discuss in a wider context the impact of Stefan Strelcyn’s achievements and those of other Polish scholars, including Stanisław Chojnacki and Joanna Mantel-Niećko, in developing our knowledge of different aspects of Ethiopian culture. We wish to invite all researchers who are particularly interested in the dependencies between the scholarly work of individuals and changing sociopolitical circumstances. The vast available source materials representing Strelcyn and other Polish scholars’ broad academic and personal ties with the leading scholars of Ethiopian studies of their time, as well as the history of their careers reflect interconnections between the worlds of politics and of the academia. The stories behind the prestigious Haile Selassie I Prize awarded to Stefan Strelcyn, as well as Stanisław Chojnacki’s commitment to the creation of the IES Library and Ethnographic Museum illustrate the above.
The history of the undertakings of Stefan Strelcyn and the Polish school of Ethiopian studies shed light on the significance of regional studies in a global context.
WIESŁAWA BOLIMOWSKA'S PHOTOGRAPHS AS A COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL SOURCES FOR THE DERG PERIOD [Abstract ID: 0509-02]
The aim of the presentation is to discuss a collection of photographs on Ethiopia by Polish journalist Wiesława Bolimowska. Wiesława Bolimowska visited Ethiopia on a number of occasions between 1973 and 1989. She represented the Polish Press Agency and covered important political events, including OAU meetings. Her main task was to provide the Polish Press Agency with information on events as well as on the political and social situation in the country. Wiesława Bolimowska also authored a number of texts on Ethiopia published in Polish periodicals. On her numerous visits to Ethiopia she took photographs. Only a small number of them, and only those showing the Ethiopian landscape and Ethiopian people, were used as illustrations in the Polish press at the time. The archives of Wiesława Bolimowska, apart from many photos from other parts of Africa and from the Middle East, hold several dozens of pictures from Ethiopia of high historical value. Among others, details of parades from the Derg's period, political posters and other examples of propaganda of the time were captured. These rare images were preserved in the eye of the Polish reporter's camera. This collection seems to merit presentation to the international audience of scholars of Ethiopian studies.
ARCHIVAL RECORDINGS OF ETHIOPIAN ORATURE PRESERVED ON TAPES BY STEFAN STRELCYN [Abstract ID: 0509-03]
Stefan Strelcyn emerged from a traditional school of Ethiopian Studies oriented towards Amhara-Tigray culture rooted in Ge’ez heritage. However, during his academic career he extended his interest to other cultures and languages spoken in the area. It can be seen in the recordings he made during his research visit to Ethiopia in 1957/58, preserved on twenty tapes deposited at the Library of the Department of African Languages and Cultures at the University of Warsaw. The current presentation concentrates on describing the content of the recordings, with particular attention given to folk songs, which take up a substantial part of time on the tapes. Recordings include various examples of Amharic, Guragie, Harari, Tigrinia and Oromo folk songs and tales as well as Ge’ez religious poetry and songs. The most substantial is the material in Amharic containing azmari songs involving male and female singers as well as other folk songs which were sung on different occasions. The several hours of Ethiopian orature preserved on tapes by Stefan Strelcyn affirm the contribution of this prominent scholar to the development of Ethiopian studies, not only in its traditional scope but also in a much wider context.
COLLECTIO ÆTHIOPICA OF THE LIBRARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AFRICAN LANGUAGES AND CULTURES [Abstract ID: 0509-01]
The library of the Department of African Languages and Cultures (University of Warsaw) has nearly 18.000 publications and 600 journals about Africa and African studies, not to mention several dozen African newspapers. Most of the books and journals were published in European languages: English, German, French, Portuguese and, of course, Polish. Apart from books and journals, the library maintains a special collection of maps, CDs and videos with African music, films and photographs. 1/3 of the collection constitutes of publications in African languages, that are taught at the Department: Swahili, Hausa and Amharic. The library’s collection dates back to 1950 when the Chair of Semitic studies was founded by prof. Stefan Strelcyn as a part of the Oriental Institute, University of Warsaw. Thanks to the contributors, amongst whom were the most prominent scholars – prof. Stefan Strelcyn, prof. Stanisław Chojancki, prof. Joanna Mantel-Niecko – the library now holds the largest and the most valuable Ethiopian collection in Poland consisting of books, journals, manuscripts, and records of international congresses and conferences concerning Ethiopian studies. The aim of the presentation is to show how the collection reflected not only the interests of the faculty, but also the times and political situation both in Ethiopia and Poland since the beginning of academic relations between the two countries.
ETHIOPIA SEEN FROM WARSAW IN THE 19TH AND 20TH CENT. [Abstract ID: 0509-07]
The reminiscence of Polish reception of Ethiopia in the two past centuries would not be complete without mentioning a large African context and especially the whole north-eastern part of Africa, with a particular focus on the Middle Nile Valley, which was the Ethiopia of ancient Greeks and Romans. We do not intend to give a complete account of Polish scholarship, literature and press articles concerning Ethiopia. Even a concise description would certainly be too abundant for a conference paper. However, the speaker will try to produce a general overview of the approach of Poles to the remote and interesting African empire.
RYSZARD KAPUŚCIŃSKI'S "THE EMPEROR" [Abstract ID: 0509-05]
Ryszard Kapuściński's "The Emperor" - a world famous reportage concerning the reign and fall of the emperor Hajle Syllasje - is considered a controversial account of the last days of the Ethiopian king of kings. Examining the factual content of Kapuscinski's book, I will take into account the very personal biography of Hajle Syllasje written by John Spencer (the Ethiopian ruler's longtime collaborator), Harold G. Marcus, whose opinion of Kapuscinski's work is very critical, the Italian ethiopist Angelo Del Boca, who cites the Polish reporter’s opinions in positive terms, and other famous experts on Ethiopia, for example J. Mantel-Niecko, A. Bartnicki, J. Milewski and H. Rubinkowska. As Kapuscinski was a Polish correspondent sent by the Polish Press Agency to cover the most important historical events in Ethiopia in the '60s and '70s, he wrote many accounts which were published in the Polish press. However he also wrote many secret accounts, which were sent to his agency and never published. I examined all the dispatches sent by him in 1963 and 1975-77 (including the restricted ones). I will compare his two ways of writing about Ethiopia - the artistic and factual descriptions of the same historical events. Ryszard Kapuscinski wrote and published his book exactly 40 years ago (1978) and since then it has functioned almost exclusively as a parable of authoritarian power (starting from Edward Gierek's Poland in the '70s). Reportage as a literary genre has changed since that time and its authors have become more and more attentive towards The Other. "The Emperor" written today would be definitely a completely different account.