Cultural Research from Germanophone Countries in Northeastern Africa: Stories and Histories
Starts: Monday, 24 November, 2014 12:00am
Ends: Monday, 24 November, 2014 03:00am
24.11. - 25.11.2014
Goethe-Institut Addis Abeba
For over three hundred years, Ethiopia and German-speaking countries enjoyed an unusual relationship built on scholarly and cultural curiosity and affection. The Goethe Institute will launch a symposium on the history of cultural research of German-speaking scholars in the Ethiopian region. A number of stories will be told and illustrated by findings so far largely unknown by the general public.
German academic research on northeast Africa had its first peak in the 17th century, starting with the friendship between the young Orientalist Hiob Ludolf (1624-1704) and the Ethiopian scholar Abba Gorgoryos (ca. 1600-1658). Both started working on a huge history and ethnography of Ethiopia, which became the standard text for generations of researchers to come. From the 19th century onwards, a steady stream of German-speaking scientists and migrants visited Ethiopia, and some of them stayed their whole lives in the services of Ethiopian princes and rulers. The first in-depth studies were published, on Ethiopian languages, local legal systems, the ancient church language Ge'ez, the history of Ethiopian rulers, local ethnic groups, followed by seminal studies by great figures of modern social anthropology such as Leo Frobenius (1873-1938) and his successors. Local partners – from princes to traditional scholars – played a crucial role in shaping knowledge.
At a moment of radical change of the Ethiopian academic landscape a closer look on the ways and detours of past research may be useful: This symposium assembles Ethiopian and European scholars looking at life and research stories, theories, and experiences of success and failure.