Northwestern Events Calendar


Afrisem Presents: Justice or Vengeance? What the Rhetoric of Adwa Memorial Center Can Tell Us About Ethiopia’s Political Culture

When: Thursday, February 8, 2024
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM CT

Where: 620 Library Place, Conference Room, 620 Library Place , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Program of African Studies   (847) 491-7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings, Academic, Social


Please join us from 5 pm to 7 pm for another series of Afrisem Presents, with our graduate student, Behailu Mihirete.


Behailu's bio:
Behailu is a second-year PhD student in the Rhetoric, Media and Publics program. He studies political communication, specifically the rhetoric of states, and social and political movements of 20th and 21st Century Ethiopia.  

Presentation Title: Justice or Vengeance? What the Rhetoric of Adwa Memorial Center Can Tell Us About Ethiopia’s Political Culture

Since 1975, Ethiopia has celebrated The Victory of Adwa, its anticolonial triumph over Italy in 1896, at Menelik II Square. Primarily because of the contested legacies of the emperor, this commemorative practice has engendered debates among two polarized memory publics. His admirers insist that Adwa must continue to be celebrated at the square that bears the name and statue of its commander-in-chief. His detractors call for a disentanglement between the celebration of the Victory and the glorification of the emperor, whom they consider their colonizer and whose controversial legacy they see as a liability for Adwa. The debates intensified when the Government unilaterally decided to relocate the site of commemoration to a new memorial center with an outlay of over $90 million. The memorial center will open to the public on 02 March 2024. I aim to visit the center in March and publish an article that shows how the new Adwa Memorial Center: Zero Kilometer can offer a compromise by giving Adwa a “multi-perspectival” representation. If used wisely, i.e., to pursue mnemonic justice, this article proposes, the Center has the potential to set a new commemorative ethic for the country and represent Adwa inclusively. If used to exact mnemonic vengeance, it risks perpetuating not only mnemonic inequalities but also further polarizing national politics. To make this case, this article (a) historicizes the debates over the legacies and memories of Menelik II and Adwa and (b) offers recommendations for realizing the new Memorial Center’s full potential.

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