Working Paper 103

Ethnopolitics and Gabra Origins

Günther Schlee

Abteilung ‚Integration und Konflikt’

Jahr der Veröffentlichung


Working Paper 103

Historical anthropology has turned from a specialist and slightly old-fashioned research interest into a hotly contended field of study. Ethnogenesis, i.e. the way in which ethnic groups have evolved out of earlier such configurations, has been incorporated into the discourse of ethnic activists. The present paper deals with reconstructions of the past by Aneesa Kassam, who in turn bases her arguments to a substantial degree on Gemetchu Megerssa’s statements. It confirms some of her findings and elaborates on them. Some of her main points, however, which deal with the degree to which the present day Gabra can be derived from the Boran Oromo, are found to be at variance with other evidence. The question is raised whether her perspective is influenced by modern Oromo nationalism or individual Oromo nationalists. On a more general level, the paper touches the question to which extent it is possible to write “factual” history. The ambition is to establish at least a skeleton of fact on which intersubjective agreement can be reached and which can be contrasted against interest-guided versions of history or ideological distortions.

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