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Immigrants and Kings

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Foreignness in Ethiopia, through the Eye of Armenian Diaspora

image of African Diaspora

The history of the Armenian diaspora in Ethiopia raises a number of questions about the historiography of foreigners in this country and about the collective categories that are used in the social sciences to address concepts such as foreignness, nation, and identity. Armenians in Ethiopia were commonly described as merchants and craftsmen, on the basis of European published sources of the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, their situation in 20th-century Ethiopia was characterized by the depth of their settlement in the host society. Moreover, the Armenian grand narrative claimed as a leitmotiv that they were the favourite servants of the Ethiopian kings. This paper emphasizes the need for a renewed historical approach to foreignness in Ethiopia by paying close attention to memories, alternative sources, and the making of identities as a social and historical process in the local context.

Affiliations: 1: Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAF)


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