Current Institutional Affiliation
Lecturere, Institute of E thiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University

Award Information

Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship 2017
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Institute of E thiopian Studies, Makerere Univeristy
Topographies of Memories: Remembering Asmara through Personal Histories, Metaphors of Place and Time from Ethiopia (1952-1975).

The history of the post 1945 period in Ethiopia and Eritrea generally privileges not only state oriented historiographical analysis but also sources such as official government records. The state-centric notions of self-rule have been well documented and debated in Ethiopian and Eritrean historiography. However, the multiple layers of political imaginations that have flourished at the end of colonialism are yet to benefit from the interregional urban, rural, social histories and imaginaries. This dissertation argues that, narratives of memories of Asmara from Ethiopia anchor themselves not only in extraordinary occasions- events in the past but are also associated with retrieving everyday conditions of life forms. This assertion is made by examining how interlocutors recover and account for their memories of urban past experience. By combining oral recollection of personal histories and household memory objects interviewees open the past as a moment of remembering and interpreting the past. Oral recollections of Asmara narrate what the past in the city looked like through personal accounts, household memory objects and photographs, in which case individual accounts are constructed to provide a view of the past for its own sake. Concurrently, oral reminiscing of the past in Asmara from Addis Ababa and Maqelle in 2014 and 2015, mobilize past memories to account for what is absent in the present. Oral memories of Asmara are also accounts of personal loss, uncertainties, aspirations and hopes in the present. In which case, the past is used to comment and raise questions about contemporary social and political context.