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Ethiopia and the Politics of Representation in Local, National, and Privately-funded Museums

Author(s): Justin Dunnavant

Year: 2017

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The Wolaita people are a minority cultural group within southern Ethiopia. In 1896 Emperor Menelik of Abyssinia engaged in one of his bloodiest campaigns to unseat King Tona and absorb the land and people under the aegis of the Abyssinian Empire. Since then, the Wolaita and other southern groups have been ascribed relatively marginal status in larger representations of Ethiopian identity. In 1994, however, the Ethiopian government began to actively facilitate the development of cultural museums throughout the country, developing space for cultural groups to create new exhibitions in local museums. Since then these new museums have created cultural representations that sometimes counter national narratives while reifying certain localized archetypes. This paper compares representations of Wolaita cultural identity in national, local, and privately-funded museum exhibitions to explore how various rhetorical strategies -- such as symbolic annihilation and segregating knowledges -- mobilize Wolaita identity to various ends.

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Ethiopia and the Politics of Representation in Local, National, and Privately-funded Museums. Justin Dunnavant. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435420)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

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PaperId(s): 351

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America