The official launch of the closer research co-operation in the field of the international history of the Horn of Africa took place with the workshop “Africa and the Global Cold War” in July 2018. Aychegrew Hadera Hailu represented Mekelle University in the conference organizing committee. The workshop aimed at identifying and developing further research areas and questions. During the ensuing meetings, the participants of both universities agreed on the cornerstones for future cooperation in this field.
The agreements also relate to the research project carried out by Christian Methfessel, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and starting in October 2018, on “Annexations and Secessions during the Cold War”. The project profited from the exchange of ideas with the Ethiopian colleagues from its inception, thus motivating common research activities on the history of the Cold War in Africa.
Images: Lecture Aychegrew Hadera Hailu / Lecture Iris Schröder / Final commentary Achim von Oppen © Philipp Metzler
At the beginning of October 2018, Mekelle University hosted the 20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies. On a panel on “Cartographies and Itineraries” organized by Wolbert Smidt and Eloi Fiquet, Iris Schröder presented her research on Gotha cartography. Following the conference, the annual project meeting of the ETHIOMAP project took place in Wukro.
Images: 20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies in Mekelle / Landscape around Wukro / Wukro / Fesseha Berhe Gebregergis and Wolbert Smidt / View from the Axum Hotel in Mekelle / Iris Schröder with staff from Mekelle University © Iris Schröder
In March 2019, the follow-up conference “Africa and the Global Cold War II” took place in Mekelle. In addition to the Department of History and Heritage Management, the Department of Political Science and Strategic Studies of Mekelle University were also involved in the program planning for the first time.
With the intention of opening up new perspectives for interdisciplinary research on the Cold War in Africa, this conference focused on the changes and continuities of African relations with external actors. After the conference, future collaborative activities with members of Mekelle University were discussed and there also was the opportunity make contact with the University of Bahir Dar.
Images: Iris Schröder on the Adi-Haqi campus at Mekelle University © Ned Richardson-Little / Lecture Solomon Abraha on the topic "Reckoning with the Post-Cold War, the End of Liberal Internationalism, the Era of Strongman and the Horn of Africa: Changes, Continuities and Context", Theater Hall, Adi-Haqi Campus © Paul Sprute / Adi-Haqi Campus, Mekelle University © Franziska Rantzsch / Aychegrew Hadera speaks at the conference on "Development Interventions in the Kobo-Alamata Valley: 1960s-2017", Theater Hall, Adi-Haqi Campus © Franziska Rantzsch / Participants in the “Africa and the Global Cold War II” conference in front of the Theater Hall, Adi-Haqi Campus © Paul Skabe / Bahir Dar University Main Campus © Ned Richardson-Little
During summer 2019, the international exhibition “Ethiopia of the mapmakers”, designed by Gotha collection and research institutions, was shown in Addis Ababa and aroused great interest. The exhibition was organized by the research project ETHIOMAP, which is located at the Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris and Mekelle University in Ethiopia, and was supported by the Gotha Research Library. The next stages of the exhibition have already been determined: after Addis Ababa, it will be shown in the Alliance éthio-française in the Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa and subsequently to several Ethiopian universities.
Images: Map exhibition in Addis Ababa © Wolbert Smidt
At the invitation of the Department of History and Heritage Management’s invitation, Felix Schürmann visited the Bahir Dar University as a guest lecturer in November/Dezember 2019. In addition to holding a workshop on historical methods for PhD-students, he gave a public talk on the importance of the politics of nature for the history of decolonisation in Africa. Thus, the ground was prepared for closer cooperation with Bahir Dar University. In the following year, our partnerships with Mekelle University and Bahir Dar University should be sustainably strengthened through an enthusiastic exchange of teaching staff. Felix Schürmann also visited the Martyrs Memorial Monument Museum Bahir Dar and recorded his impressions in a short review.
Images: Bahir Dar © Felix Schürmann
Concerns about the armed conflicts in Ethiopia have also, unfortunately, accompanied the cooperation activities with our Ethiopian partners at the beginning of 2021. Despite the adverse circumstances, we have been encouraged by the fact that Samuel Kidane Haile, a doctoral student from Mekelle University, was able to start his research visit as a Herzog-Ernst fellow at the Centre for Transcultural Studies in June. While in Gotha, he is conducting research on holdings of the Perthes Collection for his project "Bambilo Milash, Alawha Milash and Marab Milash in the Setting of Ethiopian History: A Geohistory of Northern Ethiopia in the 18th and 19th Centuries" which will form a part of his doctoral project. At the same time, Aychegrew Hadera Hailu arrived in Gotha as a Herzog-Ernst fellow working on his project “A History of the Qemant.” Until 2019, Aychegrew Hadera Hailu was an Assistant Professor at Mekelle University and played a crucial role in developing the partnership between our institutions. He is now working at Bahir Dar University, so his visit also contributes to the expansion of our recently initiated collaboration with that university as well.
Images: Welcoming the Herzog-Ernst-Fellowships holders 2021 © Claudia Berger