Sunday, April 5, 2015

Death of Don Levine, Scholar on Ethiopia

Donald N. Levine, one of the world's leading scholars on Ethiopia and long affiliated with the University of Chicago, died on 4 April 2015 at the age of 84.  In 1965 he published a seminal work titled "Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture" that soon became a classic in the field of Ethiopian studies.  It was my privilege to call Don a friend.  The Ethiopia Observer carried an obituary.

1 comment:

  1. With all due respect to your friendship with Donald Levine, I just wish he was a bit more balanced in his unabashed push for the "Greater Ethiopia" concept. As modern day Ethiopian politics clearly proves, Ethiopian "unity" is a very optimistic view that is at odds with the current reality facing the country (indeed throughout history). The current federalism structure at least recognizes the diversity of the country although it is "federalism" by name only. Donald Levine was so mesmerized by Amhara culture and intrigue, he either failed or chose not to acknowledge the validity of other nationalist movements within Ethiopia. For example, if you are not familiar with Mekuria Bulcha's book, "Contours of the Emergent & Ancient Oromo Nation," he successfully shows the very serious flaws of Donald Levine's "Ethiopianist" arguments which he sometimes made while denying the existence of an Oromo national identity. These contradictions have been highlighted and discredited by a lot of scholars (not just Oromo scholars).

    Nevertheless, he deserves respect for his contributions to the ongoing intellectual discourse about the future of Ethiopia.