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Sacred Networks: Religion and Social Life Among Oromo in Norway

Published in 2008, Servan, Brita Marie, Thesis Collection - Archived on August 31st, 2013

Title: Sacred Networks: Religion and Social Life Among Oromo in Norway
Author: Brita Marie Servan (Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies, and Religion; Faculty of Humanities; The University of Bergen)
Published: Thesis Collection
Language: English
Keywords: social networks, cultural capital, interaction rituals, inter-religious relations, deities

Abstract:
The main questions in this thesis are: How are religious similarities and differences expressed, and how is diversity tackled, in plural-religious social contexts? These questions and the material call for other questions to be asked, as for example: Why and how do Oromo in Norway socialise within their ethnic group? I suggest some answers based on empirical examples and theoretical reflections, both from previous studies and from my own fieldwork. My aim is to contribute to the study of Oromo, as well as put forward some perspectives on the relation between social life and religion in general. I will in the first part of the thesis examine previous studies. Chapter two briefly presents studies on Oromo history and religions. This will provide background information to the analysis since most Oromo in Norway are first-generation immigrants from Ethiopia. Furthermore, the aim is to discuss some of the shortcomings in previous studies on inter-religious relations among Oromo. Chapter three discusses previous studies on Oromo in diaspora. The intention is to give further background information as well as stress the need for studies on religion and social interaction in the Oromo diaspora. The second part discusses the theories and concepts that are being used in the analysis. Throughout the thesis, I will focus on religion as a social phenomenon. In chapter four, sociological theories, such as social networks, cultural capital, and interaction rituals, are presented. Chapter five discusses how we could conceptualise deities’ in light of previous studies. I attempt to find a way to analyse relations to deities through experimenting with the sociological theories discussed in chapter four. Hence, a central question is: could representations of deities be analysed as part of social networks, religious capital, and interaction rituals? Furthermore, I will present a proposition on how members of plural-religious networks relate to the religious diversity. The final part of the thesis, analyses the material based on qualitative interviews and participating observations among Oromo in Norway. Chapter six will suggest some answers the question: how are relations to deities expressed in social interaction? Through examples from different forms of rituals, I will demonstrate how both religious similarity and diversity are expressed among Oromo in Norway. In addition, this chapter provide some answers to how and why Oromo-Norwegians primarily socialise within their own ethnic group. Chapter seven will examine which strategies the respondents use when dealing with religious diversity, an analysis which is based on the proposition suggested in chapter five.

Dissertation in PDF format

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The Benefits of Integrating Traditional Institutions for Sustainable Management of Social Protection Programmes for Older People in Oromia: The Case of Arsi and Karayu Oromo Tribes

Published in 2012, Dekeba, Denebo, Thesis Collection - Archived on January 23rd, 2013

Title: The Benefits of Integrating Traditional Institutions for Sustainable Management of Social Protection Programmes for Older People in Oromia: The Case of Arsi and Karayu Oromo Tribes
Author: Denebo Dekeba
Published: Thesis Collection
Language: English
Keywords: Traditional Institutions, Family Law, Social Policy, Gadaa System

Abstract/Introduction:
The Oromo nation has established traditional systems and mechanisms for managing its socio-economic problems (Dirribi, 2011). The system has been governed by traditional institutions that were customized to address the socio-economic and cultural problems faced by the people. Besides, the institutions enhance the socio-economic ties among the society through, among others, facilitating community initiatives of caring for vulnerable children, women and older people. These clearly indicate that involving such traditional institutions in the development and emergency humanitarian project/programmes would have paramount contributions towards sustainability of the interventions. However, the traditional institutions have not been involved in the process of managing social protection interventions undertaken in the Oromia National Regional State in spite of their implied strategic contribution for sustainability of those interventions. Besides, neither has the potential of these traditional institutions for enhancing sustainability of social protection interventions for older people been analyzed explicitly. This research is specifically intended to find out the benefits of integrating traditional institutions for sustainable management of social protection programmes for older people in Oromia.

Dissertation in PDF format

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Millions on the Margins: Music, Ethnicity, and Censorship among the Oromo of Ethiopia

Published in 2011, Mollenhauer, Shawn Michael, Thesis Collection - Archived on May 17th, 2012

Title: Millions on the Margins: Music, Ethnicity, and Censorship among the Oromo of Ethiopia
Author: Shawn Michael Mollenhauer (Music Department, University of California-Riverside, USA)
Published: Thesis Collection
Language: English
Keywords: Africa, Censorship, Ethiopia, Ethnicity, Ethnomusicology, Oromo

Abstract:
This dissertation will demonstrate how music among the Oromo people of present day Ethiopia functions as a system for the preservation and negotiation of a uniquely Oromo identity, as well as a vehicle for resistance against the hegemony long ago established by outside ethnic groups. I will demonstrate how a long history of censorship of Oromo music by various ruling elites has made censorship one of the major features of Oromo social and aesthetic processes. This dissertation will therefore investigate the dynamic of the processes and dialogues through which Oromo identity becomes manifested, and in which music plays a deep role. In Ethiopia, a nation officially “independent” of European colonialism, “Ethiopian” culture was always equated with that of an ethnic minority. Not until the fall of Haile Selassie were the voices of other histories and previously peripheral groups given a chance to participate in the dialogue of Ethiopian statehood. I will use my ethnographic research from the US to Ethiopia to explore the relationship between performance art and state power in Ethiopia. Marginalized under Selassie, embraced and then shunned under the Derg and the current regime of Meles Zenawi, Oromo music demonstrates these complicated relationships. Oromos use music to “remember” past histories, bolster a sense of community among Oromo speaking groups, and fuel anti-colonial nationalism directed not at a European invader, but a black African one. Oromo music is used by the current regime in Ethiopia to present a face of multiculturalism. Yet while the government selectively preserves Oromo culture, Oromo musicians continue to be imprisoned, intimidated, and disappeared for making certain kinds of music. Because of this, various forms of censorship (both external and internal) have become a part of the Oromo music making process. Ethnic identity in general, and Oromo identity in particular, is performative. Music, like the ethnic identity it is used to bolster, is a performative act that creates a space for a polyvocal and heterogeneous dialogue through which Oromo identity is constituted. What can the relationship between Oromo music and the Ethiopian state tell us about ethno-nationalism, censorship, and memory? What does the selective preservation on the part of both Oromo and the Ethiopian government tell us about the role of performance in maintaining history and ethnic identity?

Dissertation in PDF format

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Culture in Sustainable Development Thinking: An Indigenous Water Management System, the Case of Borana (Oromo) People

Published in 2011, Gashe, Dessu Dulla, Thesis Collection - Archived on March 19th, 2012

Title: Culture in Sustainable Development Thinking: An Indigenous Water Management System, the Case of Borana (Oromo) People
Author: Dessu Dulla Gashe (Department of Social Science, Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
Published: Thesis Collection
Language: English
Keywords: indigenous, customary, statutory, scarcity, institutions, social organizations, power, authority, kinship, property rights, legal pluralism

Abstract:
Water is one of the precious natural resources required by human beings and other living organisms. The shortage of water sources has serious impacts in the developing world in general and pastoral areas in particular, because it traps the people of the region in the cycle of poverty by undermining economic development and health. Explicitly the pastoral groups of the Horn of Africa are severely suffering from the catastrophe. The Oromo people are one of the societies occupying the Horn. The Borana people are among the Oromo clans for whom pastoralism is a dominant way of life. As the pastoralists’ land is highly drought-prone, their livelihoods are extremely vulnerable to climate change led water scarcity and environmental degradation. A scarcity of the basic natural resources (water and pastureland) is the major problem both for the people and its cattle especially in an adverse climatic condition. Wells are the permanent water sources for the pastoral group and have a central position in the social, economic and politics of the Borana. A long-term consumption of natural resources is predominantly important for humans’ sustainability. A development explicitly interlinks with socio-economic, cultural and ecological issues of human societies. The arrangements of using scarce natural resources, like water, require robust management and conservation for present and future generations. Human societies deal a sustainability of resources use with multiple management laws and property rights arrangements. Legal pluralism deals with interdependent diverse legal forms that do exist in a society. Hence, this study aimed to explore the ways in which the Borana people have adjusted themselves to water source scarcity by analyzing its indigenous water harvesting knowledge, management institutions and property rights arrangements. It also analyzed the relevance and reliability of the plural legal forms exist in governance, property rights arrangements for a sustainable resource use and conflict resolution during adverse climatic conditions. This study pointed out that the Borana people have exercised a customary legal order that rooted to its culture to cope with social orders, social pressure and environmental limits. Traditionally, under the sprite of common property rights, a well is privately owned by a clan for which the inclusion/exclusion principles apply. Amid a harsh drought, the communities used to rely on wells that guided by an indigenous harvesting knowledge, management system, property rights arrangements and conflict resolution under the Gadaa institution for centuries. The effectiveness of these customary laws is based on the strong social networks across the clans, kinship, ready-made social structures, and power and authority vested on clan leaders and elders. But un-negotiated statutory laws and practices that introduced by other stakeholders are also visible in the Borana. The governments have developed a new resource management and property rights regulation laws and institutions. Climate change, political marginalization and population increase are the other factors that affect the effectiveness and efficiency of indigenous practices of the people.

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