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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Like Adding Water to Milk': Marriage and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Ethiopia
Author:Sereke-Brhan, Heran
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Ethiopia
political elite
History and Exploration
Women's Issues
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Politics and Government
Cultural Roles
Marital Relations and Nuptiality
Abstract:Marriage among notable families has often been acknowledged as an important diplomatic and political tool of the Ethiopian State. This essay documents the almost century-old presence of certain families in proximity to power, establishing their essential role in the forging of empire. The origins of a national elite, intricately connected across geographical regions and over several generations, found its genesis in these marriage networks that often provided critical continuity in the face of changing politics. Besides lending insights into political history, elite intermarriages provide a novel opportunity to consider the position of elite Ethiopian women. Although not primarily focused on ethnicity, the study also shows that due to extensive intermarriage, the composition of the power elite labeled 'Amhara' changed over time. By documenting who comprised Ethiopia's ruling elite, it touches upon the broader concern of whether they created an endogamous 'Amhara' ethnicity identifiable as such, or alternately, if the term 'Amhara' as applied to the ruling elite was a representation of 'official culture'. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]