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Title: Resistance and integration in the Ethiopian empire : the case of the Macca Oromo of Qellem (1880s-1974)
Author: Dinka, Etana Habte
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 0928
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines peasant-state relations in Qellem, western Ethiopia, between the 1880s and 1974. The study revolves around one question: what conditions and strategies allowed a stratified peasant society with distinct cultural identity to survive in a sophisticated and militarised African empire whose overarching policy was to turn itself into a nation-state with a coherent national identity? The argument is that conquered and exploited peasants resist the state because they reject changes that would alter or endanger their subsistence economy— which in the case of Qellem came to be strongly associated with issues of sustaining cultural identity. The state was dominated by the Amhara, and the peasants were Macca Oromo. In order to prevent changes becoming a threat to their subsistence lifestyles, Oromo peasants found useful tools within their own historical consciousness—tools that stressed how the past is remembered, narrated and conjured. But, this study is not just about resistance, it is also about attempts at political integration. From the beginning of the twentieth century the Ethiopian empire increasingly centralised its state structures, enacting laws that enforced the use of the Amharic rather than the Oromo language, supporting the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) and encouraging its local Oromo allies through various mechanisms to become more Amhara and less Oromo. When the imperial regime was overthrown by the 1974 revolution, however, very few in Qellem spoke Amharic, and large numbers of people had embraced Evangelical Christianity (EVC) as a form of protest against the state backed EOC. Further research will increase our awareness of how interaction between the imperial state and local people proceeded, and what its consequences were in the context of the broader conquered south. The process was more complex and dynamic in Qellem, resulting among other things in the survival and solidification of the Oromo peasants, although they became economically more integrated into the state, adopting a number of Amhara values in the process.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral