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Abbink, Jan

Abbink, Jan


Jan Abbink, born in Winterswijk, the Netherlands, in 1954. Ph.D. from the Radboud University Nijmegen. Senior Researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden, and Research Professor at VU University Amsterdam.

Fellow (1 September 2014 – 30 June 2015)

Changing Ethiopia: A Cultural and Political History from the 13th to the 21st Century

Research Question

What are the social, cultural and political characteristics and mechanisms that led to the formation and persistence of Ethiopia as a diverse, contested and authoritarian state, the only independent state maintained in Africa since the 3rd century?

Project Description

This project aims to produce a new history of Ethiopia and examines the socio-cultural aspects of the country’s emergence and development since the pivotal 13th century. Ethiopia’s genesis is traced along a multidimensional path,thereby moving beyond the standard political history. The book looks at underlying processes, conflicts, representations, and processes of accomodation, thereby giving due attention to the regional, ‘ethnic’ and cultural narratives that have contributed to form the modern state. Contemporary Ethiopia, since 1991 redefined as an ethno-federal state, is interpreted as the – often contested – outcome of these processes and as a rapidly ‘modernizing’ society, taking a new role in international relations.

Selected Publications

1) J. Abbink & T. Salverda, eds, 2012. The Anthropology of Elites: Power, Culture and the Complexities of Distinction. New York – Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.

2) J. Abbink & T. Hagmann, eds, 2013. Reconfiguring Ethiopia: The Politics of Authoritarian Reform. London – New York: Routledge.

3) J. Abbink, M. Bryant & D. Bambu, 2013. Suri Orature: An Introduction to the Society, Language and Oral Culture of the Suri People (Southwest Ethiopia). Cologne: R. Köppe Publishers.

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