COMPTE-RENDU DE COLLOQUE / CONFERENCE REPORT
Ethiopian Society of Sociologists, Social Workers and Anthropologists (ESSSWA) Annual Conference: How Ethiopian Researchers are doing Sociology?
By Constance Perrin-Joly
The Ethiopian Society of Sociologists, Social Workers and Anthropologists (ESSSWA) has organized, on Friday 22th and Saturday 23th of March, its 15th conference about « Rethinking our policies and practices toward tackling social and behavioral problems of Ethiopia ». More than 100 people have attended this event, which demonstrates the importance of this association for social sciences researchers. Founded in 1996, it has now more than 20 years of existence. This event was a great opportunity to observe the dynamics of sociological research and profession in Ethiopia.
The papers presented (about a dozen) witnessed about the research dynamism in Ethiopia on some specific subjects. Indeed, they mostly focused on vulnerable populations, in particular children and on deviance (for example on the substances abuses (Zelalem Tadesse), or on khat production and consommation (Yeraswork Admassie)). The subject of Market Enalku and Zena Berhanu about end-of-life care was particularly innovative, since usually the research on Africa is more dedicated to youth at the risk of forgetting ageing issues.
However other traditional subjects of social sciences do not seem to be huge concerns of Ethiopian researchers, for example social movements, or work. More surprisingly for the French observer, the issue of social segmentation and social classes does not seem to be priorly mobilized in the analysis.
If theses priorities are linked to the history of Ethiopian research and the mobilization of the intellectual elites on development questions by the government and the international institutions, they also reveal an action-oriented research. Almost all the speakers propose recommandations and solutions to resolve the deviance they describe or to help the vulnerable populations they observed. Theses recommendations were also the main focus in the debates. The audience often questioned their colleagues about the feasibility of the solutions proposed. Those who have taken part of a concrete project were heartily congratulated, as Prof. Getnet Tadele, engaged in community development. Some of the speakers expressed also their satisfaction if they have had a direct possibility of action, regretting that research has usually only an indirect effect.
Ultimately, the conference of ESSSWA was a great opportunity to meet colleagues and discuss about our various working practices.