Bekalu Yimer Kifle

Visiting Scholar


B.A. History, Addis Ababa University, 2005
M.A. History, Addis Ababa University, 2009

My name is Bekalu Yimer Kifle. I am from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I am a doctoral candidate in the Heritage Studies PHD Program at Arkansas State University. My research interests include early 20th century historical writings, the conception of time and historiography in Ethiopia and its implications on the meanings of modernity, nationhood, Ethiopia and Ethiopianness. My dissertation is primarily concerned with the project of the writing of history at the turn of the twentieth century by a nucleus of locally and Western educated Ethiopian intelligentsia. The study draws on manuscripts produced in late 19th and early 20th century Ethiopia by this group of intellectuals. The time period in which they were intellectually productive coincided with the  era when colonialism peaked in parts of Africa and Asia. A careful (re)reading of their works reveals that it was becoming painfully apparent to these intellectuals that the pace of modernization that the nation had registered, while to be commended, was severely wanting in the face of colonial encroachment. Naturally this sentiment expressed itself in their historical writings, and the form and voice their writings had taken. Their writing in fact, represented a significant departure in the nation’s long record of history writing. My dissertation is therefore a careful consideration of this departure that has not been previously studied. Indeed, my central thesis is that while not entirely abandoning previous forms of historical writing, i.e., the chronicle and hagiographical forms, they introduced and popularized the writing of history in the linear mode in early twentieth century.