Asafa Dibaba

Finding Meaning/s in Social Memories

21 April, 2023, at 5 p.m. CET

Speaker's Biography:

Prof. Asafa Tefera Dibaba (PhD), College of Humanities, Addis Ababa University, Oromia / Ethiopia 

Prof. Asafa Dibaba is a poet, educator, and researcher with PhD in Folklore (and minor, Anthropology) from Indiana University, USA (2011-2015),  and MA in Comp. Literature. His research interest includes environmental folklore, resistance songs, women folklore, social memories, narratives, ecopoetics / ethnoecology, and nature poetry. 


The lecture aims to examine various means of  vernacular memory practices, both traditional and modern, used among the Oromo people to facilitate everyday acts of cultural transmission and social transformation in the face of rapid changes. The Oromo are the largest and populous nation in Oromia /Ethiopia, Northeast Africa. The underlying assumption here is that  changes are exacerbated both by externally induced forces and internally motivated factors which impact social memory practices, cultural symbols, expressive representations, and ways in which, among the Oromo, everyday representations of the past and  meaningful sense of shared identity are strategically negotiated. The research attempts to tackle questions of folkloric, historical, and anthropological nature:  What are some of the expressive representations of the past available among the Oromo today? What cultural practices and symbols are used to effect social memory, and on what contexts, to negotiate meanings? Where and how are individuals’ personal narrative repertoire enacted to situate social memory within the traditionalized understanding of shared/historical identity. What factors are at work, both internally and externally, to disrupt social memory practices? Towards this goal, the data come from field interviews, folkloric and historical texts, oral histories, life history narratives, and other expressive memory works and available cultural symbols used to relocate the social imagining of historical identity rooted within a translocal past of the people.