Urban Forum

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 267–293 | Cite as

History, Modernity, and the Making of an African Spatiality: Addis Ababa in Perspective

Article

Abstract

A body of scholarship in urban theory of global South over the last two decades has begun to present counterhegemonic notions of modernity and urbanism thereby charting new ways to conceptualize and study African cities. While the need for fuller, richer, and more textured accounts of ordinariness of African cities is often emphasized, the usefulness of differentiated accounts of cities to understanding their spatiality is also highlighted. This article attempts to supplement the ongoing discussion by exploring Addis Ababa as an African city with particular cultural and political historical contexts that gave it distinct experiences of modernity. Data is primarily drawn from historical study of modernizations of the city, supplemented with an ethnographic study that documents contemporary changes and lived experiences in the city and its emerging modern residential places. The study shows that the local experience of modernity is primarily situated in the isolated and noncolonial history of the nation, which on the one hand helps preserve indigenous qualities and on the other becomes a source of envy contributing to the consciousness of belatedness compared to other colonized and Western countries. This consciousness coordinates political intentions with people’s everyday practices in the co-making of a new, modern Addis Ababa and the reassertion of its unofficial identity as “the Diplomatic Capital of Africa.” Potentials and challenges of place-based conceptions of urbanism are implicated.

Keywords

Modernity Identity Place History Urbanism Addis Ababa 

References

Note: Family names are unfamiliar in both popular and academic writings in Ethiopia. Thus, to avoid confusion, Ethiopian authors whose cited works appeared in local publication are listed below in their first names with their full names

  1. AAHDPO. (2007). Integrated Housing Development Programme: undergoing projects and components that require support (an official report prepared for potential donors). Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa Housing Development Project Office.Google Scholar
  2. AAHDPO. (2008). Rules, regulations and guides for Association of Condominium Owners (an official report written in Amharic). Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa Housing Development Project Office.Google Scholar
  3. Abrams, P. (1982). Historical sociology. New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Adejumobi, S. A. (2007). The history of Ethiopia. Westport: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  5. Alemayehu, G. (2002). The Gebre-Hiwot model: a pioneer African (Ethiopian) development macroeconomist. Ethiopian Journal of Development Research, 24(1), 1–27.Google Scholar
  6. Angelil, M., & Hebel, D. (2010). Cities of change Addis Ababa: transformation strategies for urban territories in the 21st century. Basel: Birkhauser.Google Scholar
  7. Ashcroft, B. (2009). Alternative modernities: globalization and the post-colonial. Ariel, 40(1), 81–105.Google Scholar
  8. Asrat Seyoum (2012, October 06). A roof over one’s head. The Ethiopian Reporter. Accessed 8 March 2013.Google Scholar
  9. Assegid Tefera (2009, February 28). Many condominium owners said unable to settle payment. The Ethiopian Reporter. Accessed 10 February 2011Google Scholar
  10. Bach, J.-N. (2011). Abyotawi democracy: neither revolutionary nor democratic, a critical review of EPRDF’s conception of revolutionary democracy in post-1991 Ethiopia. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 5(4), 641–663.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Barkley, J. R. (2008). Making sense of place according to lived experience. Connecting Decision-making with Sense of Place Workshop, September 23–27, 2008. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (unpublished paper)Google Scholar
  12. Barthel, Pierre-Arnaud (2010). Arab mega-projects: between the Dubai effect, global crisis, social mobilization and a sustainable shift. Built Environment 36.2(2010): 133–145.Google Scholar
  13. Bonsa, S. (2011). The political economy of urban modernization: urban planning and urban land tenure in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1886–1975. Draft Chapter presented at: African Studies MRG Dissertation Workshop, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  14. Cherenet, Z. (2010). The portrait of an isolated nation—Abyssinia/Ethiopia. In M. Angelil & D. Hebel (Eds.), Cities of change Addis Ababa: transformation strategies for urban territories in the 21st century. Basel: Birkhauser.Google Scholar
  15. CSA. (2007). Population and Housing Census Report. Addis Ababa: Central Statistics Agency.Google Scholar
  16. Dejene Aredo (1993). The informal and semi-formal financial sectors in Ethiopia: a study of the Iqqub, Iddir, and savings and credit co-operatives. African Economic Research Consortium.Google Scholar
  17. Demissie, F. (2008). Situated neoliberalism and urban crisis in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. African Identities, 6(4), 505–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eisenstadt, S. N. (2000). Multiple modernities. Daedalus, 1–29.Google Scholar
  19. Eisenstadt, S. N. (Ed.). (2002). Multiple modernities. New Brunswick: Transaction.Google Scholar
  20. Ejigu, A. (2012). Socio-spatial tensions and interactions: An ethnography of the condominium housing of Addis Ababa. In: M. Robertson (Ed.). Sustainable cities: local solutions in the global South. Rudby: Practical Action Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  21. Ejigu, A. & Haas, T. (2014) Sustainable urbanism: past modernist, past traditionalist housing strategies. Open House International (forthcoming: Vol. 39 No.1, 2014).Google Scholar
  22. ETV (2010). Addis Ababa City Administration inaugurated 10,000 condos. Ethiopian Television, 2 May 2010.Google Scholar
  23. Fasil Giorgis (2007). Addis Ababa in the past and its prospects in the new millennium. Addis Ababa Millennium Secretariat (p 52–55)Google Scholar
  24. Fourie, E. (2012). A future for the theory of multiple modernities: insights from the new modernization theory. Social Science Information, 51(1), 52–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fuller, M. (2006). Moderns abroad: Italian colonial architecture and urbanism. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Guenther, M. (2006). The concept of indigeneity. Social Anthropology, 14(01), 17–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gyekye, K. (1997). Tradition and modernity: philosophical reflections on the African experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Habtamu Alebachew (2013, January 07). Ethiopia’s renaissance: quest for conceptual and definitional parcels. Meles Zenawi Memorial Official Website: http://www.meleszenawi.com/ethiopias-renaissance-quest-for-conceptual-and-definitional-parcels/. Accessed 21 Jan 2013.
  29. Hall, J. G. (2003). Exploration of Africa—the emerging nations: Ethiopia in the modern world. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers.Google Scholar
  30. Hosagrahar, J. (2005). Indigenous modernities: negotiating architecture and urbanism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Howard, S. (2010). Culture smart—Ethiopia. In: G. Chesler (Eds.). London: Kuperard.Google Scholar
  32. Kebede, M. (1999). Survival and modernization—Ethiopai’s enigmatic present: a philosophical discourse. Asmara: The Red Sea Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  33. Kebede, M. (2004). Africa’s quest for a philosophy of decolonization. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  34. Kebede, M. (2006). Gebrehiwot Baykedagne, eurcentrism, and the decentering of Ethiopia. Journal of Black Studies, 36(6), 815–832.Google Scholar
  35. Kebede, M. (2008). Radicalism and cultural dislocation in Ethiopia, 1960–1974. RochesterGoogle Scholar
  36. Knauft, B. M. (Ed.). (2002). Critically modern: alternatives, alterities, anthropologies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Knebel, N. (2009). The heritage of modern architecture in Addis Ababa 1960–1975. Paper presented at the international conference on “The Urban Heritage of Addis Ababa” organized by GTZ, Addis Ababa, May 2009.Google Scholar
  38. Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  39. Lefebvre, H. (1996). Writings on cities. UK: Blackwell. Translated and edited by Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas.Google Scholar
  40. Levine, D. N. (2004). Greater Ethiopia: the evolution of a multiethnic society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  41. Levine, D. N. (2009). The battle of Adwa as a ‘historic’ event. Ethiopian Review, 3 March 2009. Accessed 12 May 2011.Google Scholar
  42. Low, S. M. (2003). Embodied space(s) anthropological theories of body, space, and culture. Space and Culture, 6(1), 9–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Malik, A. (2001). After modernity: contemporary non-western cities and architecture. Futures, 33(10), 873–882.Google Scholar
  44. Marcus, H. G. (1994). A history of Ethiopia. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  45. Mbembe, A., & Nuttall, S. (2004). Writing the world from an African metropolis. Public Culture, 16(3), 347–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Munro-Hay, S. C. (1991). Aksum: an African civilisation of late antiquity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  47. MWUD (Ministry of Works and Urban Development) (2008) Integrated Housing Development Program of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia presented at the “African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development,” AMCHUD II, Abuja, Nigeria, July 2008.Google Scholar
  48. Myers, G. (2011). African cities: alternative visions of urban theory and practice. Zed Books.Google Scholar
  49. Nuttall, S. (2004). City forms and writing the “now” in South Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies, 30(4), 731–748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Oakes, T. (1997). Place and the paradox of modernity. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 87(3), 509–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pieterse, E. (2010). Cityness and African urban development. Urban Forum, 21(3), 205–219. doi:10.1007/s12132-010-9092-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pieterse, E. (2011). Grasping the unknowable: coming to grips with African urbanisms. Social Dynamics, 37(1), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Proclamation No. 272/2002. A proclamation to provide for the re-enactment of the urban lease holding of urban lands. Negarit Gazeta No. 19, 8th year, 14 May 2002, pp. 1732–1739.Google Scholar
  54. Robinson, J. (2002). Global and world cities: a view from off the map. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 26(3), 531–554.Google Scholar
  55. Robinson, J. (2004). Cities between modernity and development. South African Geographical Journal, 86(1), 17–22.Google Scholar
  56. Robinson, J. (2006). Ordinary cities: between modernity and development (4th ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Roudometof, V. (2003). Glocalization, space, and modernity. The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms 8:1, 37–60.Google Scholar
  58. Roy, A. (2009). The 21st-century metropolis: new geographies of theory. Regional Studies, 43(6), 819–830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Samuel Taye (2013) Ethiopia: the Gada system—why denied recognition to be a world heritage? All Africa. http://allafrica.com/stories/201209210569.html. Accessed 2 Feb 2013.
  60. Schmidt, V. H. (2006). Multiple modernities or varieties of modernity? Current Sociology, 54(1), 77–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tibebu, T. (1995). The making of modern Ethiopia: 1896–1974. New Jersey: Red Sea Press.Google Scholar
  62. Tibebu, T. (2008). Modernity, eurocentrism, and radical politics in Ethiopia, 1961–1991. African Identities, 6(4), 345–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Vaughan, S., & Tronvoll, K. (2003). The culture of power in contemporary Ethiopian political life. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.Google Scholar
  64. World Mayor (2005) Arkebe Oqubay—Mayor of Addis Ababa 2005. http://www.worldmayor.com/manifestos05/addis_ababa_05.html. Accessed on 30 April 2009.
  65. World Trade Press (2010). Ethiopia society and culture complete report. Petaluma, CA, USA: World Trade Press, 2010. p 17–18. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/kth/Doc?id=10389083&ppg=20. Accessed 21 Jan 2013.
  66. Woubshet, B. (2002). Urban policies and the formation of social and spatial patterns in Ethiopia: the case of housing areas in Addis Ababa. Department of Town and Regional Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Fine Arts, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. PhD Thesis.Google Scholar
  67. Zeleke, E. C. (2010). Addis Ababa as modernist ruin. Callaloo, 33(1), 117–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zewde, B. (2001). A history of Ethiopia: 18551991. 2nd ed. Eastern African studies.Google Scholar
  69. Zewde, B. (2003). What did we dream? What did we achieve? And where are we heading? Ethiopian Economic Association 5(3).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KTH/Royal Institute of Technology Division of Urban and Regional StudiesSchool of Architecture and Built EnvironmentStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations