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2 - Islaama Peoplehood and Landscapes of Bale

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2020

Terje Østebø
Affiliation:
University of Florida
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Summary

The chapter discusses the material realities of Bale, describing its variety of topographical and ecological particularities. It underscores these landscapes as more than empty canvases for human activities, discussing how they affected and shaped human lives, and how the people imprinted themselves upon the land. The chapter moreover explores the history of the Arsi Oromo in Bale, paying attention to the process of gradual Islamization and how the Muslim Arsi Oromo came to put their own mark on the new religion, carving it into the landscape in the form of shrines and through well-traveled paths leading to these shrines. It emphasizes how the Islamic dimension became crucial in the formation of Islaama peoplehood, which on the one hand was locally emplaced and on the other hand transcended local boundaries. It similarly points to how Islam was embodied in genealogies of religious figures that were fused with narratives of Oromo ancestors, rooted in experiences of embodied kinship relations. Extending this to a discussion of the sociocultural features of the Arsi Oromo, the chapters underscores Islaama peoplehood as not merely an exclusively religious category but something encompassing both ethnicity and religion as foundational dimensions, thus denoting belonging in a strong affective manner.

Type
Chapter
Information
Islam, Ethnicity, and Conflict in Ethiopia
The Bale Insurgency, 1963-1970
, pp. 34 - 65
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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