Ethiopian Studies

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Ethiopian Studies refers to a multi-disciplinary academic cluster dedicated to research on Ethiopia within the cultural and historical context of the Horn of Africa.


The classical concept of Ethiopian Studies, developed by European scholars, is based on disciplines like philology and linguistics, history and ethnography. It includes the study of Ethiopian arts and the history and theology of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The classical core of Ethiopian Studies is the philology of the written sources of Christian Ethiopia and Ethio-semitic linguistics. While this approach is still alive and has its role, Ethiopian Studies has opened to a wider concept that tries to avoid a bias in favour of the Christian Abyssinian culture (Amhara, Tigrinya; cf. Habesha people). It includes the study of the other Afro-Asiatic languages and cultures of Ethiopia besides those of Ethio-semitic derivation; the nation's non-Afro-Asiatic languages and cultures, including the southern Ethiopian cultures; non-Christian faiths, comprising Islam and traditional religions; social and political sciences; as well as contemporary issues like environment and development studies.

Institute of Ethiopian Studies[edit]

The study of Ethiopian topics had been long been concentrated in European academic institutions. This is seen in such examples as Enno Littmann directing the German Aksum-Expedition in Ethiopia in 1905.[1] When Italy invaded Ethiopia, some Italian scholars such as Enrico Cerulli were active in Ethiopia. As a result, many Ethiopian manuscript collections and other materials from Ethiopia are found in European museums and libraries.

Ethiopian Studies began a new era in 1963 when the Institute of Ethiopian Studies was founded on the campus of Haile Selassie University (which was later renamed Addis Ababa University).[2] The heart of the IES is the library, containing a wide variety of published and unpublished materials on all types of matters related to Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.


Ethiopian Studies scholars congregate at the interdisciplinary International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, a series of gatherings that takes place every three years. Traditionally, every third conference is held in Ethiopia. The 19th meeting was in Warsaw, August 24–28, 2015. The 20th conference will be in Mekelle, Ethiopia in 2018. Volumes of proceedings are published after most conferences.

Journals and publications[edit]

Ethiopian Studies is served by a few journals and publications specifically devoted to the field. These include:

  • Journal of Ethiopian Studies (Ethiopia)
  • ITYOPIS Northeast African Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities (Ethiopia)[3]
  • Annales d'Éthiopie (France)
  • Aethiopica: International Journal of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies (Germany)
  • Rassegna di Studi Etiopici (Italy)
  • Northeast African Studies (USA)
  • Encyclopaedia Aethiopica (Germany)
  • Journal of Oromo Studies (USA)[1]
  • International Journal of Ethiopian Studies (USA)

Notable Ethiopianists[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Abbink, Jon G. 1991: Ethiopian Society and History: a Bibliography of Ethiopian Studies, 1957-1990. Leiden.
  • Abbink, Jon, 1995: Eritreo-Ethiopian Studies in Society and History 1960-1995: a Supplementary Bibliography. Leiden.
  • Abbink, Jon, 2010: A Bibliography of Ethiopian-Eritrean Studies in Society and History 1995-2010. Addis Ababa & Leiden.
  • Baye Yimam. 2009. Five Decades of Ethiopian Studies. Journal of Ethiopian Studies 42.1/2: v-xi.
  • Kropp, Manfred 1994, "From Manuscripts to the Computer: Ethiopian Studies in the Last 150 Years". In: K.J. Cathcart (ed.): The Edward Hincks Bicentenary Lectures. Dublin . pp. 117–35.
  • Uhlig, Siegbert, et al. (eds.) (2005). "Ethiopian Studies". In: Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Vol. 2: D-Ha. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 433f-38.

External links[edit]