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Conference Ethiopian Revolution at 40

14 november 2014
IISG Amsterdam

The Ethiopian Revolution at 40: Interpreting Social Effects and Historical Meaning

September 2014 marked the fortieth anniversary of the overthrow of Ethiopia’s imperial regime, a seminal event in the global history of revolutions. The anniversary offers an occasion to take stock of and interpret the social effects and meaning of the revolution. Over the past year, IISH's Africa Desk has collected a sizeable collection of periodicals, booklets and other documents on the period.

Academic and non-academic interest in the Ethiopian revolution is undergoing a revival, as witnessed by the recent publication of a number of Amharic and English books on the subject. In general, however, scholarship on the Ethiopian revolution stops short of offering any interpretation of the meaning of the revolution beyond its immediate causes and effects. So far, few serious attempts have been made to interpret the revolution as a process that goes beyond the era of the Derg regime. This conference aims at filling this void by offering historical interpretations of the lasting social effects and significance of the Ethiopian revolution. The assumption is that social dynamics set in motion by the revolution are still in function in today’s Ethiopia and may continue to generate novel social outcomes in the future.

The central research questions that authors will engage with in Amsterdam are the following: what are the surpassed and lasting social effects attributable to the revolution? What impact has the revolution had on different social relations and categories (to be identified in individual papers)?

The conference is organised in cooperation with the African Studies Centre in Leiden.

Attendance is free of charge; please register by email with Ms. Jacqueline Rutte: jru@iisg.nl


Welcome by the IISH head of collections Marien van der Heijden.

Dessalegn Rahmato – A heavy price to pay: the Derg and “military socialism”
John Markakis – Enduring influence of the revolution on the Ethiopian nation-State building project
Fouad Makki – The long revolution: 1974 from the perspective of 1991
Jon Abbink – The Ethiopian revolution after forty years (1974-2014): Plan B in progress?

Coffee break

Eyob Balcha – The legacy of the Ethiopian Revolution on Youth Political Engagement
Candace Aklile – A peculiar generation: an examination of the role of secondary schools in the politicisation and radicalisation of youth
Steven Serels – Industry and revolution: textiles and the politics of Ethiopian power in Eritrea under the Derg
Adane Kassie - The Effect of the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution on the Confederation of Ethiopian Labour Unions (CELU)

Lunch break

Kiflu Tadesse – Some thoughts about Ethiopian “left”
Melakou Tegegn – February 1974 as a historic thrust toward democracy/civil society
Berthold Unfried – Friendship and education, coffee and weapons: exchanges between socialist Ethiopia and the GDR
Giampaolo Calchi Novati – The case of Eritrea and the contradictions between ideology and nationalism

Coffee break

Film display by BitaniaTedesse - “Revolutionary Ethiopia” through the lens of the contemporary film industry

Abera Yemaneab – The politics of land tenure in Ethiopia
Elleni Centime Zeleke – Social sciences in the Ethiopian revolution
Gemetchu Adimassu – The post-revolutionary legislations and policy on women, and what is left of that heritage
Andreas Admasie – The Ethiopian revolution, social structural transformation and capitalist development
Stefano Bellucci – A kind of communism? The forgotten impact of social and economic experiments in Ethiopia (and Africa)


Andreas Eshète – Summing-up discussion