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[PANEL] 1209 LOCAL-KNOWLEDGE STUDIES RECONSIDERED; CREATIVITIES, TRANSMISSION, SHARING AND BEYOND.
Masayoshi SHIGETA, Professor, Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Japan
Morie KANEKO, Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Japan
Morie KANEKO; Marion LANGUMIER; Chiharu KAMIMURA; ALEMU Alene; BERHANU Matebie Agalu;
GETACHEW Abeshu; TSEHAY Baissa; Masayoshi SHIGETA; Kazuki KAWAMATA; TEREFE Mitiku;
HAREGEWOIN Mekonnen Bekele; MOHAMMEDAWOL Reshad
Local-knowledge studies have been a booming topic of anthropological research since 1990s. However, there was a clear contrast in their approaches between ethno-scientific researches and applied anthropological studies at the beginning, Now that many anthropologists started looking at the generation and transmission of local knowledges as not an event but a process. Interactionist approaches are more commonly found in several anthropological/ethno-biological researches. In this Panes, we would like to bring those researches made in Ethiopia from the variety of perspectives in local knowledge studies, together for further discussion and mutual criticisms for the next generation research on the topics.
Following research topics relating to local knowledge are welcomed: Agricultural practice, Food production, Waste management, Techniques of body, Communal use of natural resources, Community initiatives for development, etc.
DEVELOPMENT OF LOCAL KNOWLEDGE OF TRASH IN SOUTHWESTERN ETHIOPIA WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO USED SCHOOL NOTEBOOKS [Abstract ID: 1209-08]
This paper describes the development of local knowledge of trash in southwestern Ethiopia. In this study the word “trash” is considered to have multiple meanings in the local context. It also examines the process by which daily necessities become trash and the multi-layered relationships between humans and things. This study worked with data obtained from fieldwork conducted in southwestern Ethiopia for 1 month in 2013. Forty-seven junior high and high school students were interviewed to determine how they kept and used their school notebooks. By focusing on the process by which used school notebooks became trash, this study shows how local people identify items as daily necessities or trash in a local context.
EXAMINING ESTHETIC SCARIFICATION IN A MURSI VILLAGE : MEANING AND EXPERIENCES IN THE FLURRY OF INFLUENCES [Abstract ID: 1209-14]
My contribution looks at the practice of scarification among the inhabitants of a Mursi village which I call Bholi, where I conducted three months of ethnographic research. At a crossroads between communities from distant countrysides, urban and state ahmaric-speaking entrepreneurs and worldwide travel circuits, this settlement, built on the sides of the very new road that links Jinka to the Omo river, is a priviledged place to observe the evolution of local aesthetics along with the increasing circulation of newcomers. I will argue against a common hypothesis suggesting that this evolution is the result of the unilateral influence from outsiders. I will show that, one the one hand, scarifications are less affected than body paintings by photographic tourism. On the other hand, since they can be found elsewhere in all Ethiopia, scarifications hardly encounter governemental condemnations, contrary to other adornments such as lip-plates. Yet, scarification in Bholi today is far from being independant from social changes. Evidence of it can be found through a comparison of names and patterns of incision across different periods of time and various generations. The comparison further shows how scarifications are a tool used by subjects to situate themelves in reference to different worlds: whether inspired by traditional cow-herding, religious conversion or dreams of national job careers, they reflect the village, the town, or the wider world. Further on, I will show, through the observation of three operations, that each part of the process implements the society’s perceived identity and fundamental values, including bravery through pain and the primacy of individual will. Hence scarifications appear as a specific Mursi way to assimilate change. While producing an embodied knowledge deeply appropriated as part of an individual’s affirmation and definition as a person, its evolutions reflect the way Bholi villagers enter into Ethiopian citizenship.
HEALTH PERCEPTION AND PRACTICES AMONG PEOPLE IN THE RURAL AMHARA REGION, ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1209-06]
This study examines the medical perceptions and practices of local people in the rural Amhara region, in northwestern Ethiopia. In this presentation I will demonstrate how people maintain their health, based on field data including the use of medicinal plants such as spices and herbs and foods that are embedded in their lives. I conducted research from September 2017 to November 2017, and from December 2017 to February 2018. My data consist of my personal interviews with 3 people about their use of spices available near the village. I also observed the diet of a family for 70 days and recorded the ingredients, preparation and frequency. There are two main findings: 1) All the informants used spices daily as seasonings, and sometimes used them as medicine. Informants’ explanations of the meaning and effects of each spice varied depending on whether it was being used as a condiment or medicinally, even though it was processed the same way. For example, one informant said “garlic makes wet taste better,” and added it to the pan when cooking a side dish called wet, which is eaten at every meal. She also mentioned that she uses it to relieve symptoms when her family gets a cold. The preparation is the same, chopping and grinding the cloves of garlic and taking it orally cooked or raw mixed with other spices. 2) Food was sometimes considered in association with both physical and mental health. Mat'at'ayb is a cottage cheese paste with spices that is normally eaten for breakfast or with coffee. Informants generally considered it to have health benefits, such as keeping the stomach healthy. People often serve it at feasts and may eat it for the first meal after a fasting period in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, with a sense of gratitude for life. Keeping themselves healthy and dealing with sickness were among the most basic concerns for local people in their daily life. Because of the link with their well-being, informants particularly considered food as essential. These findings can provide an insight into the local attitudes toward well-being of the rural Amhara region.
HIGHLAND BAMBOO-BASED TRADITIONAL HANDICRAFT PRODUCTION, MARKETING AND UTILIZATION IN AWI ZONE, NORTHWESTERN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1209-11]
The main objective of this study is to investigate bamboo-based traditional handicraft production, marketing and utilization in Awi Zone, Northwestern Ethiopia. In order to undertake this study, in-depth interviews, FGDs, observation and document analysis were used as instruments of data collection. The findings of this study revealed that different types of traditional bamboo handicraft outputs have been produced in the study area since the early times. The wisdom of bamboo processing is largely obtained by observation from and instruction by parents and the local people. Ordinary tools are employed in the production process. Literate youth males and residents living near to major roads are active participants. Residents of remote areas and few literate youth females are occasional participants, and most who possess adequate land and most of the females are non-participants in bamboo-based traditional handicraft production and marketing. The rural community and town residents with low income are the main utilizers of bamboo handicrafts, but the bamboo handicraft utilization culture of residents of towns with medium and higher income is extremely low. The study also revealed the existence of opportunities which would be helpful to develop the bamboo handicraft sector of the study area, e.g. the presence of bamboo resource and traditional wisdom of bamboo processing in the study area, the location of most of the bamboo handicraft producing kebeles of the study area near to major roads of the country, the existence of conducive policy environment, the possibility to learn from best practices of bamboo handicraft processing at global level, the presence of technical and vocational colleges and the establishment of Injibara university. The bamboo handicraft sector of the study area, however, is underdeveloped because the sector is constrained by different challenges such as attitudinal, product quality, trained manpower, training and technology, capital, work and selling place, market linkage, support service, organizational, bamboo resource, electricity and license related challenges. Thus, efficient and innovative leadership should be provided to get rid of the challenges that affect the bamboo handicraft sector and to exploit the opportunities that would be helpful to develop the bamboo traditional handicraft sector in the study area.
IMPLICATIONS OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE IN SMALL-SCALE FARMING FOR RURAL AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT: THE CASE OF GUANGUA WOREDA, AWI ADMINISTRATIVE ZONE OF AMHARA NATIONAL REGIONAL STATE [Abstract ID: 1209-10]
Ethiopia is the origin of a variety of indigenous crops and diverse farming practices which have potential to boost agricultural production. However, indigenous knowledge is still misrepresented in agricultural development intervention programs due to the lack of information as the base for policy formulation. To fill the existing knowledge gap, this research investigated the implications of indigenous knowledge in small scale farming for rural agricultural development in Guangua Woreda. Mixed research approach was used to collect the required data by overcoming possible shortcomings of using each method alone. Accordingly, a survey, focus group discussion, key informant interview and document analysis were data sources. Qualitative and quantitative methods were concurrently designed to collect both forms of data correspondingly. The study areas and participants for a qualitative approach were selected purposively while the respondents for the survey were selected through systematic random sampling technique. The sample size for the survey was determined by using proportional random sampling technique. 407 participants in total were involved in the study. Thematic analysis was used for qualitative data whereas quantitative data was analyzed via descriptive and inferential statistics. This study identified that farmers of the study area have developed indigenous soil fertility status indicators of their farmlands. In doing so, when farmers found their land fertility status to be high, they have been using soil fertility conservation mechanisms, such as cutting canal, unplowed strips and stone bunds/terracing. On the other hand, they have been applying indigenous soil fertility improvement mechanisms like manure, dung, and crop residue, fallowing, mixed cropping and crop rotation if they consider their land fertility status to be low. It was also explored that as farmers have developed various indigenous techniques to control crop herbs and pests which have comparative advantages over modern techniques. As most of the respondents identified, the main source of information regarding indigenous knowledge is community via traditional ways of knowledge transfer. Development agent’s misperception, little academic coverage and agricultural policy related problems were extracted as challenges that have been facing indigenous knowledge. Establishing participatory on farm research center and a multiple evidence base approach were suggested as best ways to integrate indigenous knowledge with modern knowledge.
INDIGENOUS COUNSELING SYSTEM IN ETHIOPIA: OROMIYAA REGION IN FOCUS [Abstract ID: 1209-13]
Although modern and traditional community-based approaches to counseling contrast significantly, the purpose of counseling remains the same globally. The objective of this study is to analyze the efficacy of the indigenous counseling approaches ever practiced by the Oromo community. Five districts/zones employing traditional/indigenous counseling services were covered in the study with purposeful selection of study sites. Data was gathered from interviews, structured observations, and focus group discussions based on their relevance to the situation. Qualitative research was employed to describe the data. The study finds that counseling is a tradition among the Oromo community in Ethiopia even if there was no effort made by higher institutions and the government to incorporate the cultural values of counseling into the educational curriculum of the country. That the indigenous counseling system has been neglected to be incorporated in the curriculum of the countries’ education further weakens the impact of this traditional counseling method. Moreover, cultural invasion by outside religious denominations as well as intrusion of the dominant ruling classes through the displacement of the local natives by the pseudo-urbanization has had a moribund effect on the native’s traditional counseling system's existence. The methods and techniques used by the traditional counseling systems are well organized and aided by the rules and regulations of the general assembly (Gumii Gayyoo) of Gadaa system. Integrating the traditional counseling system into the educational curriculum of the country and adapting the modern counseling methods to harmonize better with local community customs is recommended.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE STUDIES IN ETHIOPIA RECONSIDERED: CREATIVITIES, TRANSMISSION, SHARING AND BEYOND [Abstract ID: 1209-07]
Local-knowledge studies have been a booming topic of anthropological research since the 1990s. However, there was, at the beginning, a clear contrast in the approaches between ethno-scientific research and applied anthropological studies. Now, many anthropologists have started looking at the generation and transmission of local knowledges, not as an event, but a process. Interactionist approaches are more commonly found in several anthropological/ethno-biological researches. In this presentation, we would like to focus on those research made in Ethiopia from a variety of perspectives in local knowledge studies together for further discussion and mutual criticism for the next generation of research on these topics.
REVEALING THE COFFEE COMMUNITY: LIVELIHOODS OF FARMERS AND THE LOCAL ECONOMY IN SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1209-04]
London’s first coffee house opened in 1652 and, twenty years later, France followed suit. From this time on, coffee rapidly became a worldwide commodity. Since coffee is regarded as an almost-daily necessity in many countries or regions (typically in what we call developed countries), the total production is increasing annually. Ethiopia is known as a prominent coffee exporter worldwide; at the same time, the domestic market is also remarkably large and accounts for approximately half of the gross volume produced within the country. To pursue greater efficiency and transparency at each stage in the process of trading coffee, both for exports and for domestic use, a commodity exchange known as the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) was introduced in 2008. It is believed that the distribution system managed by the ECX benefits those who are economically and geographically marginalised. However, there are some doubts about its efficiency and benefits; therefore, it is necessary to examine how the ECX improves farmers’ and traders’ standard of living in rural areas. This research clarifies the livelihoods of people, mainly coffee farmers in Kaffa, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) in Ethiopia. This area is a prominent coffee producing region which provides one of the best possible conditions for cultivation such as temperature and altitude and is also known as the birthplace of coffee. Using the participant observation method, we studied ethnological and indigenous knowledge related to coffee production, as well as the actual status of coffee farmers, including their culture, food, traditions, and local economy. Besides, this research examines how the ECX functions in the local producing areas. The livelihood of coffee-related people in the area, such as suppliers (acrabis in Amharic) and collectors (sebasabis in Amharic), are also focused on since they play a fundamental role in the distribution system in rural areas. Ultimately, this research will contribute towards further study which aims to clarify the relationship between capitalist production and poverty, along with social, economic, cultural, and political factors concerning coffee production in the studied area.
THE ROLE OF OROMO INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION: THE CASE OF KUTTAAYEE OROMO IN AMBO DISTRICT [Abstract ID: 1209-01]
An indigenous knowledge in disaster management and protection is essential for the sustainable disaster management and health of the natural environment and its inhabitants. In Africa, there are many indigenous environment management and disaster control mechanisms. The people of Ethiopia have developed detailed interactive knowledge of the heavens, of the Earth, of the weather, of the animals, of vegetation, of the water, of the soil, of crops, of insects, and of environmental and nutritional requirements, properties and peculiarities. This work addresses the indigenous knowledge of the people of Oromo in disaster management. Responses to disaster, interlink of traditional worldview and natural disaster prevention and management are also discussed. The data show that indigenous knowledge is playing a significant role in keeping the balance of ecology and minimizing environmental degradation. This knowledge is mainly supported by a worldview, values, and norms. The research confirmed that the attachment of this knowledge to norms and values in turn contributed for the sustainability of the knowledge for centuries. Though the functions of this knowledge are getting slower in some cases, the conversation with informants and research participant show that yet it is contributing for improving for environmental consciousness and environmental hazards managements. The data was obtained from primary sources, and from key informants through interviews, Focus Group Discussions (FGD) and observations, and was analysed qualitatively.
THE SOCIAL MATRIX OF SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT IN ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1209-05]
In this presentation, social and cultural factors influencing municipal solid waste management (SWM) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are elaborated. The study focused on the meaning of, and attitudes toward, solid waste-related practices at the household level and among sanitation workers in relation to the standards set by the city administration. Participants in this research, which was undertaken in Bole sub-city, Woreda (equivalent to a district) 09, in 2017, were members of a sanitation workers’ union and residents of the woreda. The data was collected through interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observation to elucidate community practices related to waste management at the grassroots level. Sanitation workers who participated in the study suggested that adherence to SWM standards varied significantly among households, contrary to data gathered from randomly selected households. In this regard, the sanitation workers’ perspective emphasized the community had little concern about waste handling or about sanitation workers’ dignity. Although the selected households appeared to respect the rules, the majority of community households did not strictly follow the city’s SWM rules and regulations. In addition, waste-sorting behaviors appeared to be directly linked with household income generation and empathic feelings toward sanitation workers. This contrast reflects a serious, ongoing problem in the city. The findings of this study suggest further research on the multiple social factors that influence solid waste-related practices in the community. Such research could serve as a basis for a contextual understanding of the root causes of these problems, the role of local knowledge, and practical implications of the current findings.
THE SOCIO-POLITICAL STRUCTURE AND ROLE OF TRADITIONAL GOVERNANCE: THE CASE OF OGET AMONG THE QEBENA, SOUTH ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 1209-02]
In recent years, indigenous institutions have been attracting the attention of development researchers, policy makers and practitioners for their role in the face of ever increasing crisis situations. Even though there are a number of indigenous institutions in Ethiopia, their contribution to socio-cultural and economic development as part of the larger agenda of rebuilding their communities and the nation has not been adequately studied. This study was aimed at assessing the socio-political structure and role of traditional governance; the case of Oget among the Qebena, South Ethiopia. Qualitative research methodology was applied to describe its structure and role. The findings reveal that the Qebena use their indigenous institution of governance (which has a power structure of three authorities: general assembly which is known as Oget, clan assembly and village assembly) for claiming their rights, for mobilizing the community for development projects, especially in the expansion of public service delivery, participating in policy implementation and the settlement of conflict and adjudication of disputes through institutional arrangements outside formal legal structures. In general, the study attested that the indigenous institution of Qebena has a great role and potential in maintaining social order and enhancing the local economic, social, political and cultural lives of the people.