Graduation Year

2018

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Anthropology

Reader 1

Lara Deeb

Reader 2

Daniel Segal

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Rights Information

Lina S Mihret

Abstract

In this thesis, I discuss the constraints and mediations on political discourse in the Ethiopian Diaspora in North America. I use the amateur sports federation, the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) as a site for this analysis, looking both at the online media campaign carried out when a split occurred in the institution and its 2017 tournament. The sport’s federation is a space for the diaspora to unite and pass down the cultural forms that distinguish it to the next generation. I argue that the political discourse of the diaspora is constrained by how the diaspora continues to (re)define its self in relations to the memories and imaginations of its homeland and its desire to remain a united and distinct community. Chapter 1 provides an analysis of the migratory history of the Ethiopian diaspora in North America. This history pinpoints the diaspora’s reproduction of a unifying hegemonic Amhara national identity that is not supported by the current ruling party in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). This is the history fuels the memory and imagination of the homeland that informs the mythico-histories that it produces to define the types of politics are supported or tolerated in the diaspora. Chapter 2 discuss the use of mythico-histories by anti-government groups in their campaign to boycott against the All Ethiopian Sports Association One (AESAONE)’s tournament. These narratives reveal the formation of an alliance between the apolitical sports’ federation ESFNA and aggressively anti-government groups in the diaspora. Finally, in Chapter 3 I analyze the symbiotic relationship between these anti-government groups and ESFNA and some of the way it shapes the political discourse at the 2017 ESFNA tournament. The tournament is a mediated space in which ESFNA’s apolitical unifying mission and the anti-government group's message are able to exist together.

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