The first heritage institutions of Ethiopia: French influence and Ethiopian nationalism


CFEE Seminar Past and Present: History, Memory and Heritage

4ème séance / 4th session: Azaïs and the first heritage institutions of Ethiopia (1922-1936): between French influence and Ethiopian nationalism, par / by Amélie CHEKROUN (Musée du quai Branly/IMAF)

Mardi 16 février 2016, 14h-15h30, Bibliothèque d’études éthiopiennes Berhanou Abebe (CFEE) / Tuesday 16 February 2016, 2-3:30 PM, Berhanou Abebe Library of Ethiopian Studies (CFEE).

Attention : Cette séance sera suivie d’une autre, programmée au séminaire “Women and Gender in the Horn of Africa” (15h30-17h) / This session will be followed by another, part of the seminar series “Women and Gender in the Horn of Africa” (3:30-5 PM).

Azaïs and the first heritage institutions of Ethiopia (1922-1936): between French influence and Ethiopian nationalism, par / by Amélie CHEKROUN

At the beginning of the 1920’s, the French government attempted to export in Ethiopia an archeological policy first developed in Maghreb and Egypt. In 1922, Father Azaïs, a former French Capuchin missionary in Ethiopia, was sent to ras Tafari – the Ethiopian regent – to convince him to build an Archeological French Institute in Addis Ababa, and to conduct archeological prospections in the country. Ras Tafari soon expressed interest in archaeological research and its potential for the building of an Ethiopian “national heritage”. He made the project his own. Between 1927 and 1936, the Ethiopian government requested Azaïs to create a National museum and an Archaeological Ethiopian Institute. Azaïs was also asked to undertake archaeological research in Western, Eastern and Southern Ethiopia – the regions incorporated in the Ethiopian empire at the end of the 19th century. This research unofficially aimed at legitimizing their conquest by the Christian state. Through the study of Azaïs’ singular pathway and relations with the Ethiopian government, this presentation aims at highlighting a little known chapter of the history of French archaeology abroad. It also underlines the way Ethiopia defined its selective policy towards archaeological policy and heritage as a whole.

L’ intervenante / The speaker

Amélie Chekroun est historienne, post-doctorante au musée du quai Branly (Paris) et chercheuse associée à l’Institut des mondes africains (IMAF, UMR 8171). Elle est spécialiste de l’islam médiéval en Éthiopie / Amélie Chekroun is a historian, postdoctoral fellow at Musée du quai Branly (Paris) and associate researcher at Institut des mondes africains (IMAF, UMR 8171). She is a specialist of medieval Islam in Ethiopia.

Organisateurs du séminaire 2015-2016 / Convenors of the seminar series 2015-2016: Belete Bizuneh (AAU, History Dept.), Deresse Ayenachew (Debre Berhan University, History and Heritage Management Dept.), Thomas Guindeuil (CFEE), Margaux Herman (CFEE/IMAF), Kindeneh Endeg (AAU, IES), Shiferaw Bekele (AAU, History Dept.).

Photo: Azaïs, Dire Dawa.

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