Challenges in Ethiopia
Jim Ellison, associate professor of anthropology, outlined Ethiopia’s shifting social, economic and political landscape Feb. 2 in a thought-provoking FaculTea lecture. Held in the Biblio Café, the lecture shed light on social inequalities that persist after Ethiopia's liberalization in 1991, when the country's socialist government was overthrown.
Ellison noted that while southern Ethiopian minorities have managed to improve their situation during the past two decades, underlying tensions still exist and are occasionally acted out. “The hostilities are expressed in new forms, and in different ways,” he explained. “It’s similar to what we see happening in Egyptian society right now, in that there are deep, longstanding contextual relationships [at play] that we may not recognize [at first glance].” [Story continues below.]
Ellison, whose work focuses on colonialism, socialism and neoliberalism in Ethiopia and Tanzania, traveled to Ethiopia several times to research this phenomenon. In July, he will take anthropology students on a six-week trip to Tanzania, where, with the help of peer translators, they will research nutrition and health challenges faced by East African peoples.
He said he was gratified by the response to his lecture, which attracted 30-40 audience members despite dreadful winter weather. This included Remo Chiatti, father of Lawrence '13, who had lived for a time in southern Ethiopia and traveled two hours to attend the event.
“I'll be sending him some of my papers,” Ellison said.
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Photos by Carl Socolow '77