University of Erfurt

Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt

Projekt von Fesseha Berhe Gebregergis M.A.

Research on the Perthes Collection (Historical Maps) to Examine the Developments of the Lowland-Highland Territorial Concepts in Northern Ethiopia with the Example of the Dobᶜa

The proposed research project has been developed in the framework of my PhD project, an ethno-historical research focusing on the Dobᶜa. The Dobʿa are one of the earliest peoples of Ethiopia, already mentioned in early medieval sources, but whose history remains obscure. The proposed research project’s major aim is to use the Perthes collection, particularly the 19th century historical maps, in understanding the developments of lowland-highland territorial concepts in the region taking the Dobᶜa as example, but also looking at other comparable groups and regions along the fringes of the Tǝgrayan highlands. By focusing on the Dobᶜa and southern Tǝgray, the project examines the representation of local knowledge (locals’ territorial conceptions) on the maps. It also assesses the contribution of the maps in our understanding of inter group interaction in the northern Ethiopia region particularly between the highlanders and the lowlanders. Assessing the importance of the maps in documenting ethnonyms and toponyms and in establishing the boundary of the Dobᶜa territory is also another focus of the project. No one has yet worked on the maps in line with the discussed research questions. Viewing from this angle, the project is an original contribution in understanding the developments of locals’ conception of territory using maps. But most importantly, the Perthes maps collection is unknown in Ethiopia and so far totally inaccessible to Ethiopians and Ethiopian researchers. Thus, the project, I believe, is one means of making this knowledge available in Ethiopia and accessible to Ethiopian communities and institutions.

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