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Classic Book on Oromo Studies, Gada by Asmarom Legesse, Available on

Pre-owned copies of one of the pioneering books on Oromo Studies, Gada: Three Approaches to the Study of African Society by Asmarom Legesse, is now available on The book, published by Free Press (Macmillan Publishing) in New York in 1973, is credited for instituting the Oromo Studies’ branch focusing on the Oromo Gadaa Civilization. The author, Prof. Asmarom Legesse, who was profiled on by Obbo Hunde Dhugassa in August 2012, had recently mentioned that an updated version of the original 1973 Gada book would be available soon.

Prof. Asmarom Legesse’s other book on a similar topic is entitled “Oromo Democracy: An Indigenous African Political System” (published in 2001).
Cover/Jacket design by Douglas Hollis

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(Taken from the Hardcover’s Jacket)

Gada: Three Approaches to the Study of African Society

By Asmarom Legesse

Gada is a highly innovative study which explores the meaning of asymmetric dialectics in human society. It demonstrates that structural models, such as those analyzed by Lévi-Strauss, and empirical processes, such as those studied by American cultural anthropologists, are perpetually at odds with each other. So long as anthropology examines only one or the other reality, its conclusions remain partial, if not illusory.

Legesse interprets these approaches inductively. He isolates each method’s domain by applying it to a rich body of field data on the Gada System – the central institution of the Oromo. Structurally, this institution is a closed system which admits no change. Empirically, it is one of the most unstable and dynamic institutions on record. Computer simulation was successfully employed to show how the contradiction between social structure and demography generated change and how the combined social-demographic system underwent orderly transformation for several centuries. Perhaps for the first time in the history of anthropology, the development of a complex institution has been reproduced experimentally.

The third approach, social drama analysis, was used to explore how the society reinterpreted its models in time of crisis and how it invented ambiguous compromise solutions that temporarily resolved the deeper contradictions.

Legesse shows how these approaches can become powerful instruments of research. However, in his thought-provoking postscript, he criticizes the looser varieties of evolutionary anthropology which have no method and feed upon the Westerner’s desire to see his civilization as the pinnacle of all human achievements.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (1973 Profile)
(Taken from the Hardcover’s Jacket)

Asmarom Legesse graduated from Haile Selassie I University in Addis Ababa and received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard. He has taught at Swarthmore College, Harvard, Chicago, and Boston Universities. He is now [1973] Associate Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University.

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