Radicalism and Cultural Dislocation in Ethiopia, 1960-1974

Radicalism and Cultural Dislocation in Ethiopia, 1960-1974

Messay Kebede

A provocative investigation into the root causes of the Ethiopian political upheavals in the second half of the twentieth century.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, a majority of Ethiopian students and intellectuals adopted a Marxist-Leninist ideology with fanatic fervor. The leading force in an uprising against the imperial regime of Emperor Haile Selassie, they played a decisive role in the rise of a Leninist military regime. In this original study, Messay Kebede examines the sociopolitical and cultural factors that contributed to the radicalization of the educated elite in Ethiopia, and how this phenomenon contributed to the country's uninterrupted political crises and economic setbacks since the Revolution of 1974.
Offering a unique, insider's perspective garnered from his direct participation in the student movement, the author emphasizes the role of the Western education system in the progressive radicalization of students and assesses the impact of Western education on traditional cultures. The most comprehensive study of the role of students in modern Ethiopian political history to date, Radicalism and Cultural Dislocation in Ethiopia, 1960-1974 opens the door for discussion and debate on the issue of African modernization and the effects of cultural colonization.

Messay Kebede is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Dayton and is author of Survival and Modernization -- Ethiopia's Enigmatic Present: A Philosophical Discourse [1999].

Table of Contents

The Rise of Student Radicalism in Ethiopia
Eurocentrism and Haile Selassie's Educational Precept
Origins and Purpose of Haile Selassie's Educational Policy
Radicalism as a Fallout of Uprootedness and Globality
Imitativeness and Elitism
Ethiopian Messianism
Religion and Social Utopianism
The Sublimation of Desertion
Objective Causes of the Radicalization of Students and Intellectuals


This book will be of interest to several audiences. Specialists will welcome it as a provocative theorization of a critical period in the region's intellectual history . . . But Kebede also engages larger questions in African intellectual history, and this work is of particular interest as a study of the encounter between traditional knowledge and modernity. . . . This is a rich work that succeeds in situating a remarkable chapter in Ethiopian history in a broader, comparative context. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF AFRICAN HISTORICAL STUDIES [James De Lorenzi]

Overall, this is a thoughtful, provocative and insightful book, essential reading for anyone interested in Ethiopia during the revolutionary years of the 1960s and 1970s, and the era of political radicalisation in Africa and Asia more broadly. --Richard Reid in Institute of Historical Research
[see the complete review at http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/paper/reidr.html]

In this engaging and necessary book, Messay Kebede boldly argues that Ethiopian intellectuals failed disastrously in their revolutionary métier for lack of originality, creativity, and authenticity. It is a stirring interpretation bound to delight and infuriate, but even those who disagree with its point of view will find much that is informative and illuminating. Extensive in analysis and unsparing in clarity, this is a work of impressive range and depth. It is hard to think of a more significant contribution on this highly controversial subject. --Gebru Tareke, Professor of History, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

No one concerned with the fate of contemporary Ethiopia and indeed of the nature of modern revolutionary ideologies will want to miss this eye-opening account. Marshaling a trove of little-known data and a circumspect selection of theoretic insights, Messay Kebede offers an instant benchmark in the contemporary history of this troubled nation in his artfully crafted work. --Donald N. Levine, Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Sociology, University of Chicago, and author of Greater Ethiopia

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