The language of culture and the culture of language : Oromo identity in Melbourne, Australia

Gow, Greg (1999) The language of culture and the culture of language : Oromo identity in Melbourne, Australia. PhD thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


Until recently, the Oromo were largely unknown among scholars of Africa. Since the Abyssinian conquest of the vast Oromo land-known today as Oromiyain the late-nineteenth century, Oromo within the Ethiopian empire state (where they number more than half the population) have remained politically, linguistically, economically and historically marginalised. Since the late 1970s, almost a century after their conquest, when the Derg military junta's campaign of terror was at its peak, and continuing with the present regime, large numbers of Oromo have fled Ethiopia to neighbouring countries. By 1997 a small number (approximately 500) had resettled in Melbourne, Australia. Over these past two decades Oromo nationalism has grown into a mass movement in east Africa and among the worldwide exilic communities. Central to the growth of nationalism has been the assertion of a pan-Oromo national identity (Oromumma, 'Oromoness'). Like all identity politics, Oromo nationalism remains academically deadlocked between essentialism and social constructionism: Oromo anti-colonial nationalists posit an atavistic account of Oromo identity, while 'Western' scholars generally conceive of it in politically disabling constructionist terms.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 2002 Cultural Studies
Historical > FOR Classification > 2003 Language Studies
Keywords Oromo, afaan Oromoo, Oromiya, Ethiopia, Africans, African languages, ethnic identity, ethnicity, social life, customs, Melbourne, home, representation, subjectivity, identity, music, nationalism, dissonance, ethnography
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