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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Caste and Class in Historical North-West Ethiopia: The Beta Israel (Falasha) and Kemant, 1300-1900
Author:Quirin, James
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Ethiopia
Subjects:social structure
Religion and Witchcraft
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/183596
Abstract:This article compares the histories of two small groups in northwestern Ethiopia between about 1300 and 1900. It explores the development of separate identities by the Beta Israel (Falasha) and the Kemant peoples from an original common Agaw-speaking base during three periods in the history of Ethiopia: the centralizing State to 1632; the urban-centred State, 1632-1755; and the regionalized but re-centralizing State, 1755-1900. The author argues that the key variable in explaining the historical development of these two groups was their differential relationship to the Ethiopian State. During this six hundred year period, Beta Israel resisted conquest, were partially incorporated into the broader society, but ultimately maintained a high degree of social separation in an essentially caste relationship with the dominant society and State. In contrast, the Kemant did not resist the original royal incursion into the region beginning in the 14th century. Unlike the Beta Israel, they tried to maintain their identity through a process of accommodation and withdrawal up to the mid-19th century. Beginning in the late 19th century, however, their society has experienced strong pressures from the dominant society and State, leading to the loss of their cultural distinctiveness and their incorporation into the overall class system of the region. Notes, ref., sum.