Guardians of the Tradition: Historians and Historical Writing in Ethiopia and Eritrea (Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora #66) (Hardcover)
This book explores the development of historiography in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the home of Africa's oldest written historical tradition. Taking issue with those who describe history as a uniquely western intellectual pursuit and the historical discipline as a specifically modern form of knowledge, the present work offers a comprehensive survey of Ethiopia and Eritrea's rich and dynamic tradition of vernacular historical writing, which began with the monumental epigraphy of Aksum, flourished in the medieval Solomonid era, reached its creative meridian in the early twentieth century, and endured through the revolutionary era into the present day. Its primary focus is a cohort of early twentieth-century Ethiopian and Eritrean historians who explored innovative questions, genres, methods, and sources in order to grapple with a host of problems related to the modern world. In many cases, they did so by fusing the tools and insights of western scholarship with the concerns, conventions, and analytic categories of their indigenous historical patrimony. For this reason, their collective project of critical adaptation and creative synthesis has a dual significance. On the one hand, it represents a key turning point in the trajectory of this august nonwestern tradition of historical inquiry; and on the other, it documents how the forces of fin de siecle globalization fostered tremendous intellectual foment through new interactions between the local and the global. James De Lorenzi is assistant professor of history at John Jay College, City University of New York.