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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Sharing the faith: Religion and ethnicity in the city of Harar
Author:Gibb, Camilla C.T.ISNI
Periodical:Horn of Africa
Geographic term:Ethiopia
ethnic relations
social structure
Abstract:Harar (Ethiopia) has served as the centre of the Hararghe region and a regional subcentre within both the Christian Empire (1887-1974) and the socialist State (1974-1991). This paper examines the history of religion and ethnicity among the Harari, or Ge usu, 'people of the city'. In 1975, the anthropologist Sidney Waldron described the Ge usu as situated at the apex of a pyramid of ethnic stratification in a position of privilege and prestige which was sustained through a monopoly over local resources. An examination of interethnic relations before and during the Mengistu era shows that the reforms of the Dergue era effectively served to minimize some of the locally generated economically based differences between groups in Harar, and to foster greater commonality and solidarity between them as they shared common experiences and united opposition to central rule. In the final section, the author argues that belonging to a neighbourhood, and adhering to the local religious orthodoxy founded on beliefs and practices regarding local saints, had already done much to obscure definitive borders between ethnic groups in Harar. Bibliogr., notes.