The Invention of Amhara Nationalism: Ethnicity and National Identity In Ethiopia

Admassu Kebede

Major Professor: Amal Amireh

Committee Members: Spencer Crew, Wayne Froman

Johnson Center, Assembly Room C (3rd floor)
April 26, 2010, 07:00 AM to 08:00 AM


This is an inquiry into the making of Amhara nationalism within a broader context of ethnicity and national identity in Ethiopia and the ways the two are articulated together. My dissertation problematises the widely-held view that equates Amhara ethnicity and nationalism with the Amharic language. This view conflates language and ethnicity and privileges purported objective markers of ethnic identity over boundaries that are contingent and structured by social formations. In contrast, my research focuses on the political manifestation of ethnicity and nationalism which, while deriving from objective material interests, is socially defined and historically determined. I argue that Amhara nationalism did not emerge out of ethnic bondages of collective myth, memories and symbols but rather as a reaction to ethno-political Othering. My dissertation traces the political discourse on Amhara nationality to the radical Ethiopian student movement of the 1960s and analyzes the historical developments since then which led to the emergence and eventual institutionalization of Amhara nationalism through the establishment of an Amhara National State. 

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