I am currently a staff member at the Department of African and Ethiopian Studies, Asia-Africa-Institute, University of Hamburg, Germany, where I obtained my PhD in 2001. Since 2002, I am teaching Amharic and courses on African Oral Literature. I studied Ethiopian Languages and Literature (BA, 1988), and Social Anthropology (MA, 1994) at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, where I also taught Folklore and Oral Literature for over 7 years (1998-1995). I was a recipient of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship to pursue doctoral studies at the University of Hamburg (1996-2000) on the collection, classification, analysis and documentation of the various genres of Amharic oral poetry. I carried out anthropological field research in 1992/93; and in 1997/98, 2000 and worked on the social, political, literary and folkloric analysis of the major poetic traditions of the rural people in Gojjam, North-western Ethiopia.
My main publications:
* Peasants and the Ethiopian State: Agricultural Producers' Cooperatives and their Reflections in Amharic Oral Poetry, A Case Study in Yetnora, East Gojjam, 1975-1991. Münster: Lit Verlag (2000).
* Amharic Oral Poems of the Peasantry in East Gojjam: Text, Classification, Translation and Commentary. Münster: Lit Verlag. (2001).
* With Elisabeth Biasio:
Heilige und Helden. Äthiopiens zeitgenössische Malerei in traditionellen Stil. (Saints
and Heroes: Ethiopian Contemporary Paintings in Traditional Style. Zürich: Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung und Völkerkundemuseum der Universität Zürich (2006).
I also published several articles and chapters on the role and functions of Amharic oral poetry in the lives of the rural population in Ethiopia, e.g., 'Peasant Poetics and State Discourse in Ethiopia: Amharic Oral Poetry as a Response to the 1996-97 Land Redistribution Policy', in Northeast African Studies 6(1-2), 2001; 'Social Change and Local Politics: the Peasants of Gojjam and Their Reflections on Contemporary Issues in Amharic Oral Poetry', in: R. Kaschula, ed., African Oral Literature: Functions in Contemporary Contexts (Cape Town 2002, pp. 206-220; 'Amharic Praise Poems of Dejjazmach Belay Zelleqe and the Patriots of Gojjam During the Resistance Struggle Against the Italian Occupation of Ethiopia, 1936-41', in: S. Uhlig, (ed.). Proceedings of the 15th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies in Hamburg (Wiesbaden 2005, pp. 587-597); The Amina and their Poems and Blessings in Gojjam", in Annales d'Éthiopie, vol. 23 (2007), and 'Amharic Praise Poems Related to Emperors Tewodros II and Yohannes IV', in: Svein Ege and Harald Aspen (eds.). Proceedings of the 16th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies 2-6 July 2007, Trondheim (in press 2008).
In the past I had several visiting fellowships, e.g. in 2003 at the Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente, Rome, Italy; in 2005 at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London (visiting scholar); in 2006 I was Professeur Visite, with the title of Maître de conférences, at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris (where I delivered lectures and carried out archival research), and in 2006 visiting scholar at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA (African Studies Program and Folklore and Ethnomusicology Department), where I worked on the digitization of field recordings of the various genres of Amharic oral poetry and gave Seminars.
In 2004 I was a participant in the Socrates/Erasmus Mobility Teaching Program at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris.
I am a member of the International Society for the Oral Literatures of Africa (ISOLA), since 1998 and participate actively in its biennial Conferences (Cape Town, 1998, Banjul 2005, Lecce 2008).
As a visiting fellow with the TG Social Movements and Political Culture at the African Studies Centre, I will be working on a project which investigates the social, cultural, and political context and functions of two popular genres of Amharic oral poetry known as qererto (warriors' chants and songs) and fukkera (heroic recitals or patriotic songs), which are the most favourite poetic forms composed and recited by the rural people in Gojjam, Northwestern Ethiopia, and which express a variety of social and political thoughts and ideals in covert form.
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