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Title: Do 'chickens dream only of grain'? : uncovering the social role of poultry in Ethiopia
Author: Ramasawmy, Melanie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 7962
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2017
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The Amharic proverb 'Chickens dream only of grain' could easily describe our own lack of imagination when thinking about poultry. In the sectors of agriculture and development, there is growing recognition of how chickens could be used in poverty alleviation, as a source of income and protein, and a means of gender empowerment. However, interventions do not always achieve their goals, due to a lack of understanding of the local context in which chickens will be consumed. In Ethiopia, chickens have an ongoing role not just as economic tools, but in relationships between people and with the religious and spiritual realm. During a period of fieldwork of one year in the Amhara region, in the northern highlands of Ethiopia, I explored the roles that chickens play in the household and wider society. The association between poultry and women, reflected in both practice and language, is changing in peri-urban areas, where production is commercialised, bringing into question the feasibility of improved poultry breeds as a means of empowerment of women. Beyond their economic use, the slaughter of chickens plays an important role in mediating relationships with the spirits that populate the landscape in Amhara. The consumption of chickens reinforces relationships within a household, social networks, and ultimately as a form of building nationality. The types of chickens chosen for these forms of consumption demonstrates strong preferences, and may explain the resistance to improved chicken breeds that have been introduced since the 1950s. The practices around chickens also give some insight into some of the ways in which Amhara society is changing.
Supervisor: Marvin, Garry ; Beckmann, Nadine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Ethiopian ; Poultry ; Gender