Accepted Paper:

Cornerstone of local history: an Ethiopian town 35 years later  


Gunilla Bjerén (Stockholm University)

Paper short abstract:

In 1973 I studied urban migration in a town in southern Ethiopia. In this paper I will report on the reactions of the new elite of the town when finally reading a book that was until now only hearsay and the local expectations of the findings to be of the new study.

Paper long abstract:

Since 1974 Ethiopia has undergone overwhelming historical events. As a consequence, the town which I studied in 1973 today has a totally new elite with no, or shallow, roots in the place. All archives from previous regimes are gone. My humble dissertation, that was only known by hearsay when I returned in January 2008, was hoped to supply the new townspeople with a sense of their past and to provide material for tourist exhibitions and other things. In this paper, I will outline the response that I met when bringing this hope to an end while at the same time trying to fend off extravagant expectations of what the re-study would yield in terms of measurable success of "development" and increased welfare.

Panel W114
Returning to the field: experiences and dilemmas in re-studies